The darling dogma of bourgeois Europeanists

On 11 December 2013, the Institute for the Study of European Law (ISEL) hosted Professor Alexander Somek, Charles E. Floete Chair in Law at the College of Law, The University of Iowa, USA. The topic of his seminar was ‘The darling dogma of bourgeois Europeanists’.

Professor Somek examined the belief that national democracies are inherently deficient on democratic grounds since they affect people across their own borders without offering  them a voice in the domestic political process. Supranational institutions are supposed to address this problem. He explained that this belief can be given two different readings: one is liberal, the other democratic. He then argued that making sense of this belief requires transforming it into a principle of cosmopolitan citizenship that draws in the idea of virtual representation. He concluded that the current European Union would look fundamentally different if it were to abide by this principle.

Professor Somek has a distinguished academic career. Before joining the Iowa Faculty in 2003, he held the position of Associate Professor on the Faculty of Law of the University of Vienna. During the academic year 2012-13, he was a Law & Public Policy Fellow and Visiting Professor at Princeton University and during 2007-2008, he was a Fellow in the Institute of Advanced Study, Berlin.  He is the author of a number of books and numerous articles. His major areas of research are European Union Law, Comparative Constitutional Law, Public International Law, and Jurisprudence. Over the last few years, Somek’s work has concentrated on the transformation of elementary constitutional ideas in the context of transnational governance structures. The constituent power has been the subject of his book, Individualism. His book Engineering Equality addresses the problem of solidarity.

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