A European Charter: Towards a Constitution for the Union

7 Colum. J. Eur. L. 159 (2001)

Udo Di Fabio. Justice of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany (Second Senate); Professor of Law, Universität Munchen.

The European Charter of Fundamental Rights opens the door to a constitutional debate. The discussions, which revolve primarily around guaranteeing fundamental rights, express familiar entrenched positions that range from guaranteeing liberties to engineering social outcomes. However, more fundamentally the Charter is about what form the European Union (EU) will take in the future and about the core concept that will give the Union its identity. Categories based upon the closed nation-state are important starting points, but those who insist only on these categories squander the opportunity to anchor the telos of the Union more strongly than ever in the values of Western constitutional culture. In Germany, particularly, there is an awareness of the problem but the Germans have shown little creative ability to imagine a constitutional architecture for a new level of supranational public authority. In addition, precisely for those who consider the path towards a federal state of Europe to be particularly progressive, the state retains a disproportionately strong influence as the guiding model.