Entrenching global governance : the EU’s constitutional objectives caught between a sanguine world view and a daunting reality
Title: Entrenching global governance : the EU’s constitutional objectives caught between a sanguine world view and a daunting reality
Author: LARIK, Joris
Citation: Bart VAN VOOREN, Steven BLOCKMANS and Jan WOUTERS (eds), The EU's role in global governance : the legal dimension, Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. 7-22
The international role of the EU and its contribution to global governance have become formidable topics in international relations scholarship. However, evaluations of both differ widely. At the same time, the Lisbon Treaty has codified a range of objectives with a clear global governance dimension into the EU’s primary law. Among many other things, the Treaties now mandate the Union to expressly ‘promote an international system based on stronger multilateral cooperation and good global governance’. These objectives can be said to present the Union’s constitutionally stipulated ‘world view’, i.e. the kind of world to which the Treaties mandate the Union to contribute. This introduces a manifest, but thus far understudied, legal dimension of global governance. As we can see from the widely divergent assessments of the EU’s role in global governance and the international system in general, there is a need for dependable and justifiable benchmarks in this regard. It is argued here that constitutional foreign policy objectives represent an important—if not the most important—source for such benchmarks. This is so for conceptual, empirical and normative reasons. Conceptually speaking, global governance is an inherently rule-oriented as well as goal-oriented concept. Empirically, substantive global governance goals can be found today in many constitutions, including those of the rising powers. EU primary law post-Lisbon is part of this trend, but also goes further. Next to substantive objectives, it also puts a distinctive emphasis on law as an essential ingredient of its foreign policy and consequently of its vision for global governance. From a normative point of view, the peculiar features pertaining to constitutional law as a source for global governance guidance, as opposed to policy documents or other law, appear at first sight as problematic. In particular for the EU, facing the challenge of decline in a multi-polar world, entrenching such an ambitious agenda in its highest laws may appear as audacious wishful thinking. On closer inspection, however, these particular features reveal the true value of the constitutional codification of a global governance agenda. For the time being, it is in the EU Treaties that the legal dimension of global governance finds its strongest and most vigorous constitutional expression.
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