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A Critique of the Disregard for History in European Constitutionalism Theory

Christian Joerges

The strive for a European constitutional which had experienced a bitter setback in the French and the Dutch referendum, has provisionally ended in a return to bureaucratic intergovernmentalism. What went wrong? This paper will address the lack sensitivity of the protagonists of a European constitution for the historical dimensions of the integration project in general and the darker legacies of law in particular. Three exploratory steps are undertaken: (1) The first deals with the diversity of European pasts, the need to respect this diversity and promote toleration rather than homogeneity. (2) The second discusses the presence of European pasts in two in the controversy over "social Europe", in divergent national memories and anxieties and the need to reconsider too simplistic visions of a European identity and citizenship. (3) The third relates the reluctance of Europeans to glance into the darker side of their pasts to the unwillingness of European constitutionalism to consider the failures and fragility of law and legal institutions. , has many good and bad reasons. All of these failures have been accompanied by a further politicisation of our memories. The contest over memories seems unavoidable; it might, however, become a constructive exercise. The readiness to face Europe's past can be understood as a European vocation which may provide the integration project with an unheard of specific legitimacy.

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