Book Panel: Europe's Functional Constitution. A Theory of Constitutionalism Beyond the State.

Abstract: Constitutionalism has become a byword for legitimate government, but is it fated to lose its relevance as constitutional states relinquish power to international institutions? This book evaluates the extent to which constitutionalism, as an empirical idea and normative ideal, can be adapted to institutions beyond the state by surveying the sophisticated legal and political system of the European Union. Having originated in a series of agreements between states, the EU has acquired important constitutional features like judicial review, protections for individual rights, and a hierarchy of norms. Nonetheless, it confounds traditional models of constitutional rule to the extent that its claim to authority rests on the promise of economic prosperity and technocratic competence rather than on the democratic will of citizens.

Critically appraising the European Union and its legal system, this book proposes the idea of ‘functional constitutionalism’ to describe this distinctive configuration of public power. Although the EU is the most advanced instance of functional constitutionalism to date, understanding this pragmatic mode of constitutional authority is essential for assessing contemporary international economic governance.

Turkuler Isiksel (Ph.D., Yale) is currently the James P. Shenton Assistant Professor of the Core Curriculum at Columbia and works in contemporary political theory. Isiksel is particularly interested in how descriptive and normative categories tailored to the nation-state apply to political institutions beyond that context, and combines the perspectives of normative theory, legal analysis, and institutionalist political science in her work. Her substantive research interests include constitutional theory, the law and politics of the European Union and other international economic institutions, Enlightenment political philosophy (especially the evolution of ideas about commerce and international politics in the eighteenth century), theories of corporate personhood, sovereignty, citizenship, and human rights. On occasion, she also writes on Turkish politics. Her research has appeared in Human Rights Quarterly, the European Journal of International Law, International Journal of Constitutional Law (I*CON), Global Constitutionalism, the European Law Journal, and Constellations. Isiksel has held a Jean Monnet postdoctoral fellowship at the European University Institute (2010-2011), a LAPA/Perkins Fellowship at Princeton University’s Law and Public Affairs Program (2014-2015), and an Emile Noël Fellowship at NYU Law School (Fall 2015). She was also a visiting research fellow at the Justitia Amplificata Centre at Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt-am-Main (Summer 2015).

Chair: Professor Paul Craig (Faculty of Law)

Discussants: Professor Pavlos Eleftheriadis (Faculty of Law), Dr Joseph Lacey (DPIR), Professor Kalypso Nicolaïdis (CIS Director) and Professor Stephen Weatherill (Faculty of Law)

Copies of the book will be available to purchase from Oxford University Press at the event, at a 30% discount. Cash and cards will be accepted.