Course content

The course will give the students with an interest in the EU an opportunity explore a selection of topics, which are both fundamental (timeless) and timely. The course offers a research based approach to the topics of EU constitutional law, which combines theory and case law analysis.

More specifically, the main objectives of the course are

1. To provide the students with a general overview of European constitutional legal framework, including the key concepts, principles and institutions. We will analyse the concepts and principles of supremacy, proportionality, conferred powers, (horizontal) direct effect, institutional balance and the role of EU institutions in the integration and constitutionalization process.

2. The students will be encouraged to question the established narratives of constitutionalization through law and critically examine the arguments of the Court, pertaining to the autonomy and effectiveness of the EU legal order.

3. The course will address current constitutional challenges, such as the impact of the Euro crisis on the democratic processes, the accession of the EU to the European Convention of Human Rights, and the challenges facing the EU in the current refugee crisis. The course will offer the students a broad understanding of the European constitutional order, and explain the process of integration and constitutionalization through the interaction between the legal structure and political processes, principles and practice, and the relationship between the major European legal actors, such as the Commission, the Court of Justice and national courts.

Learning outcome

The course will balance the theory of European constitutionalism with the analysis of the case law of the Court. The students will be able to

1. Define the key concepts of the European constitutional structure, processes and effects, such as institutional balance (power-sharing), subsidiarity, and implied powers.

2. Analyse the interplay between law and politics in the making of the Constitution of Europe (the political process in terms of Treaty changes and the judicial constitution of Europe) and rethink critically the role og the founding cases of the EU.

3. Evaluate the arguments of the Court of Justice of the European Union, for instance those pertaining to the nature of the European legal order, its autonomy and primacy with regard to the legal systems of the Member States and the international legal order.

4. Discuss past and current problems of the European institutional setup, such as the problem of legitimacy and the postulated democratic deficit in the light of the present day events such as the Euro and refuge crisis.

5. Question and theorize the relationship between different legal orders (the EU legal order, international legal order, national legal systems).

6. Formulate your legal argument on the constitutional and institutional rules discussed in class and argue in a coherent and concise fashion that is linguistically correct.

In class, we expect active participation and dialogue. Students should generally come to class prepared, having read the materials and outlined the main arguments, problems and issues, which the reading materials raised.
Teaching and learning activities will include:
• Short student presentations in each session of the case-law of the Court of Justice or of journal articles
• Peer instruction, especially after presentations
• Group work, and peer-discussion
• Role play
• “Mind-map” drawing in order to systematize the materials discussed in class
• 10-min nonstop writing exercise to clear possible misunderstandings after individual lectures, summarize the main points of the lecture and discuss them with peers or/and lecturer
• Outline of an essay, in bullet points, to practice the structure of the legal argument
• Case study and inductive learning (hypothetical cases)

The readings will comprise approximately 500 pages.

Articles and book chapters (approximately 300 pages in total) will be uploaded on the (new) Absalon, in accordance with copy right rules of respective publishers. Students will be encouraged to find relevant case-law (approximately 200 pages in total). It is advisable that the students purchase a textbook of a newer date on the subject, such as R. Schütze, European Constitutional Law, or similar.

• P Craig and G de Burca (eds) The Evolution of EU Law (Oxford University Press, 2nd ed. 2011); Chapters 12, Bruno de Witte: Direct Effect, Primacy and the Nature of the Legal Order; 16, G. De Búrca: The Evolution of EU Human Rights Law; and 19, J. Shaw: Citizenship: Contrasting Dynamics at the Interface of Integration and Constitutionalism.

• R. Schütze, European Constitutional Law (Cambridge University Press 2012), selected chapters

• Academic articles (examples):

M Kumm, Who is the Final Arbiter of Constitutionality in Europe?, (1999) 36 Common Market Law Review 351

M Maduro, The importance of being called a constitution: Constitutional authority and the authority of constitutionalism (2005) 3

International Journal of Constitutional Law 33

A. Vauchez, The Transnational Politics of Jurisprudence.

Van Gend en Loos and the Making of EU Polity, (2010) 16

European Law Journal 1 E. Stein, Lawyers, Judges, and the Making of a Transnational Constitution, 75

The American Journal of International Law 1, 1981

H. Schepel & R. Wesseling, The Legal Community: Judges, Lawyers, Officials and Clerks in the Writing of Europe, 3

European Law Journal 165, 1997

J. H. H. Weiler, The Transformation of Europe, 100

The Yale Law Journal, 2403, 1991 (excerpts)

• Case-law

• Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Treaty on European Union, which students can download from or another official source

- A good knowledge of English is required to allow class debate.
- Having taken a first EU law course (equivalent to “EU-ret”) is highly recommended to students participating in this course.

A good command of English is crucial for active participation and class debate. We highly recommend that students take a general course in EU law, including institutional EU law and free movement at a BA level or in addition to EU constitutional law. To foreign students, who are not familiar with EU law, we recommend to follow the Introduction to EU law, which is offered in parallel.

Type of assessment
Oral examination
Oral exam based on synopsis, 20 minutes
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Seminar
  • 34
  • Preparation
  • 241
  • English
  • 275