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Constructing a ‘We’: Collective Agency and the European Union

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Chapter Summary

In the case of the European Union Petersmann persistently insisted on the close connection between the legitimacy of European law and the empowerment of citizens, the constraints on governments and the reinforcement of individual rights. Petersmann contends that international constitutionalism can provide new forms of collective agency based on the premises of democratic participation and public reason, beneficial for citizens from different states and societies. There is certainly no single 'We' in the European Union. It is not merely the 'We' of the Member-States, nor the 'We' of the peoples of Europe. The formation of the 'We' lies in a complex dialectic between national peoples and their agents. This chapter dealt with the problem of the 'We' in the context of the European Union by showing how some particular versions of the 'We' do not translate into forms of collective agency, or into a common will.

Keywords: collective agency; common will; European Union; Member-States; Petersmann; We

10.1163/9789004228832_008
/content/books/b9789004228832s008
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