Federal Experimentalism

John Erik Fossum focuses on the legal and political mediation of the tension between self-rule and shared rule at the core of European integration in the special issue of European Law Journal.

The article is published in a special issue of European Law Journal entitled 'How to get out of the European trap'. The special issue is co-edited by John Erik Fossum .


The purpose of this article is to show that federalism provides a better understanding of what the EU is, the nature of the challenges facing it, and the realm of possible solutions than do alternative conceptions such as multilevel governance. First, some important distortions about the EU and federalism in the EU studies literature need to be cleared up, before developing a new federal conception of the EU, that of a ‘poly-cephalous’ or multi-headed federation. A poly-cephalous federation is not only deeply contested; it is a highly unstable system, in particular when facing the types of challenges that the EU has faced since the global economic crisis of 2008. In the final section, the article looks at a full-fledged pluralistic federation with poly-cephalous traits, namely Canada that, since the 1980s, has greatly modified its poly-cephalous features with democratic effects. The article identifies a set of lessons for the EU from Canada's experience.

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John Erik Fossum
European Federalism: Pitfalls and Possibilities

European Law Journal, vol. 23, no. 5, 2017, pp. 361-379
DOI: 10.1111/eulj.12250

Open Access (link)

Published Nov. 29, 2017 12:00 PM - Last modified Feb. 2, 2018 9:37 AM