Legal Pluralism and the European Union: Then and Now



VU Main building, Aurora room

Legal Pluralism and the European Union: Then and Now

Faculty of Law


Conference / Symposium

Constitutional pluralism has been one of the most discussed and exciting additions to constitutional thinking about the European Union. However, in the decade or two since it became mainstream the constitutional politics of the European Union has changed. Issues of fragmentation and competition for authority and normative dominance are no longer confined to the dialogue between highest courts – although they continue there too.

This conference is based around the forthcoming Research Handbook on Legal Pluralism and EU law (Edward Elgar, 2018) and takes legal pluralism as a wider feature of the EU that is sometimes challenging, sometimes enriching, and always deserving of study. Speakers will revisit the classical issue of unresolved constitutional authority in the light of recent cases and theoretical developments, and post-Brexit, but they will also explore pluralism within EU policies, questioning from a factual and normative perspective the space allowed by EU law for diverging visions of integration.

The speakers will also consider the challenges raised by ‘illiberal democracy’, whose proponents attempt to use pluralism as a weapon to defend their domestic politics from EU interference, they will take a step back to look at the historical and sociological roots of legal pluralism in Europe, and they will question the very pluralist idea, and the sometimes contradictory politics that it entails. In his epilogue to the book, entitled ‘Pluralism: Then and Now’, Neil Walker speaks of the value of taking research into pluralism beyond its original confines in order to respond to the changing circumstance of European integration, and that is the goal that this day of discussion will pursue.

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