Constitutional courts and transnational solidarity conflicts

The research project reconstructs conflicts over distribution and recognition within the EU, which have intensified during the Eurozone-crisis, as transnational solidarity conflicts. It analyzes particularly the role national and European constitutional courts play in these conflicts.
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Conflict and conflict resolution

The Eurozone crisis is accompanied by a politicization of European governance. Transnational solidarity conflicts, which were pacified for a long time within the paradigm of a permissive consensus, have now developed a new quality. The tsc-project analyzes how these conflicts might be articulated and if constitutional courts may resolve them productively.
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Research material

The research projects deals with the role of constitutional and apex courts in Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain as well as on the EU-level. It analyzes more than 100 judgements with regard to their management of transnational solidarity conflicts in the context of the Eurozone crisis.
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Research aims

The tsc-project pursues three research aims: (1) to describe the dynamics of transnational solidarity conflicts and the institutional possibilities of their articulation; (2) to understand the consequences of tsc in the deep structures of national constitutional law; (3) to provide a normative yardstick for the role of constitutional courts in tsc.
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Affiliation

The research project is affiliated at the Goethe-University Frankfurt and will be conducted in an intensive collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg. It was launched on the 1st of March 2017 and is scheduled for five years.
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Transnational Solidarity Conflicts: Constitutional Courts as Fora for and Players in Conflict Resolution

The project

The TSC-project comprises a research group at Goethe-University Frankfurt and is also affiliated with the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, Heidelberg. It is led by Anuscheh Farahat and funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) through its Emmy-Noether-Programme. The project will run from 2017 to 2022. 

The context

National legislative autonomy in socio-economic matters is increasingly limited by political and economic interdependencies between EU member states and regulation at the European level. This has become particularly salient during the Eurozone crisis since 2008. The loss of national autonomy has given rise to political and legal conflicts over the disparate adjustment costs and burdens resulting from progressing integration and common political or economic projects. The core hypothesis of this project can be summarized as: The combination of limited political autonomy at the national level and increasingly executive decision-making on distributional regimes at the supranational level threatens the political inclusion of those groups who are negatively affected by those supranational decisions.

Destructive Potential of TSC

The conflicts resulting from this constellation can be understood as transnational solidarity conflicts (TSC). During the almost ten years of economic and financial crisis in the EU, such conflicts have significantly intensified and become much more visible. Today, disputes about transnational solidarity in the EU are expressed as conflicts about political preferences in the EU. This has led to a politicization of the EU as whole. As significant political changes on the European level do not seem feasible, political action is increasingly directed against the EU itself. As a consequence, transnational solidarity conflicts bear the risk of jeopardizing the European integration project.

Relevance of appropriate mechanisms of conflict resolution

Conflict theory approaches remind us that social conflicts always have both a productive and a destructive potential. Articulating opposing views and interests is nothing to be avoided per se. Whether or not conflicts prove to be integrative largely depends on the availability of adequate and legitimate mechanisms of conflict resolution. Such mechanism need to be designed in a way that they channel destructive potential of conflicts and contribute to compromises. Conflict resolution may operate through political, social or legal mechanisms.

Constitutional and apex courts as authorities of conflict resolution

Despite their transnational nature and the increasing politicization of the field, however, solidarity conflicts in the EU are largely being dealt with by domestic constitutional and apex courts. Constitutional and apex courts thereby become crucial authorities of conflict resolution in the EU.

  • But is judicial conflict resolution really an adequate and sufficiently inclusive mechanism to deal with transnational solidarity conflicts?
  • How does judicial conflict resolution relate to other, more political mechanisms of conflict resolution both domestically and in the EU?

The TSC-project examines these research questions by analyzing the decisions of six constitutional and apex courts (hereafter: Constitutional courts) representing core debtor and creditor countries in transnational solidarity conflicts during the Eurozone crisis (Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Germany). In addition, it also takes into account relevant jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). 

The project is composed of six sub-projects:

  1. The concept of transnational solidarity conflicts (TSC)
  2. Constitutional courts as fora of conflict resolution
  3. Constitutional courts as players in conflict resolution
  4. Dialogue between constitutional courts and other institutions
  5. Constitutional courts and the organization of public authority in the European legal space
  6. Social recognition through judicial conflict resolution

Cooperations

In cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for comparative public law and international law, the TSC-project coordinates an interdisciplinary working group on „Structural changes of conflict resolution in Europe“ led by Anuscheh Farahat and Christoph Krenn.

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