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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3. Constitutional Courts as actors of conflict resolution

The third subproject concerns the second analytical level and carries out a comparative analysis of the role national constitutional courts are playing in resolving TSC. The project will mainly address four issues:

  • Do national constitutional courts use procedural law as a filter in order to steer their involvement in TSC, and if so, how?
  • What are the most important arguments and doctrinal concepts used by national constitutional courts in dealing with TSC and what kind of understanding of transnational solidarity do they reflect?
  • How do national constitutional courts resolve TSC with regard to the language and tradition of their constitutional order?
  • How do these conflicts and their judicial resolution affect the separation of powers within the member states and the conception of constitutional rights?

The research material in this third corpus comprises the decisions made by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), as well as by six national constitutional courts, which represent donor- and debtor-countries (Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Spain). The subproject is concerned with decisions pertaining either to concrete agreements or measures during the Eurozone crisis (e.g. the establishment of the ESM, the purchase of bonds, aid payments, the ratification of so called memoranda of understanding) or to measures taken by national legislators and governments as a consequence of supra- and international obligations (e.g. concrete austerity measures, budgetary cuts as well as consequences of the implementation of the debt brake).

To begin with, we analyze the concrete regulation of access to the respective national and European constitutional courts through their procedural law. Subsequently, from a comparative perspective, we are identifying the specific judicial toolboxes that courts apply in order to deal with the conflicts described in the first subproject. For this purpose, the multiple patterns and concepts have to be situated within the concrete constitutional, political and economic context. This enables us to trace how the different types of conflicts affect the concrete constitutional orders, which structural impacts they have with regard to the distribution of power and competences and how they influence the understanding of constitutional rights. Finally, we will analyze the role different European constitutional courts play in resolving the diverse types of conflicts.

  • Whose interests and rights can be addressed by virtue of the existing procedural and material order? And which interests and rights cannot be put forward?
  • Which argumentative patterns and doctrinal concepts have been developed by the courts?
  • And, do courts take account of the transnational dimension and the various aspects of the underlying conflicts?

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