Self-Denial in Federalizing Power in the European Union: Lessons from the Causes of the American Revolution

Richard J. Sweeney

Publikation: Working paperForskning

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Because the conflicts that led to the American Revolution mainly arose fromconstitutional issues, the history of these conflicts offers lessons for the design of the newEuropean Union constitution. One lesson is the importance of avoiding needless conflictsbetween federal and member-state governments. In particular, forcing decisions on wheresovereignty lies may cause great conflict. Another lesson is that a federal system depends ongood will among the federal and member-state governments, and because this good will is easilydissipated, efforts should be made to nurture it. Federal exercise of power will often alienatemember states; thus, a sensible strategy is to grant the federal government only the minimalpowers that a strong consensus agrees it must have, and to change these powers only by strongconsensus. Removing `democratic deficits' may not be sufficient in many cases to givelegitimacy to exercise of federal power; minorities may require protection by constitutionallimits on federal powers.
UdgiverLEFIC. Center for Law, Economics and Financial Institutions
Antal sider36
StatusUdgivet - 2003
NavnLEFIC Working Paper


  • USA
  • økonomisk historie
  • føderalisme
  • EU
  • forfatninger