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.

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.

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.

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.


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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2. Constitutional courts as fora of conflict resolution

On the empirical level, the research project examines the question of why national constitutional courts and apex courts become central fora for the resolution of TSC (hereinafter the term constitutional court is used for both types of courts). The hypothesis is that constitutional courts are addressed because the parliamentary way does not appear strategically reasonable due to the limited scope of action national parliaments are witnessing during the Eurozone Crisis. At the same time, the prospects of contesting the validity of austerity measures or measures of currency hedging before European courts are considered minimal regarding their contained jurisprudence. By contrast, social actors perceive national constitutional courts as appropriate fora for achieving the symbolical recognition of a TSC.

From a political science perspective, the second subproject analyzes which judicial and political opportunity structures have created the current situation where national constitutional courts are perceived as adequate fora for the resolution of TSC. These opportunity structures are likely to vary according to the conflict types differentiated in subproject 1.

The second subproject also studies how social conflicts have to be articulated and represented in order to be dealt with as constitutional issues and how the specific judicial form of representation of conflict retroacts on the political dynamics of these conflicts. In this context one of the main concerns is to disclose the relationship between conflict resolution by constitutional courts and the politicization of transnational solidarity conflicts as conflicts about the legitimacy of public authority within the EU.

  • Are judicial conflict resolution and politicization mutually harmful or are they part of a common process?
  • In the course of controversies about the financial and economic crisis, did new political coalitions emerge, to whom social actors might refer in resolving conflicts beyond judicial review?
  • How do political and social actors interpret the role of national constitutional courts as fora for conflict resolution?

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