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Article

Constitutional Narcissism on the Couch of Psychoanalysis

Constitutional Unamendability in Portugal and Spain

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords unamendable/ eternity clauses, de jure and de facto constitutional change, constitutional narcissism, foundational design, helicopter founding fathers, constitutional alma mater
Authors Catarina Santos Botelho
AbstractAuthor's information

    Comparing the Portuguese Constitution, which has the longest unamendable clause in the world, with the silence of the Spanish Constitution regarding the language of eternity is indeed a fascinating exercise. Each state’s quantum of constitutional change seems to be quite different. One can wonder how two neighbouring states that share a heavy history of right-wing dictatorships and transitioned to democracy forty years ago opted for such dissimilar constitutional designs. However, appearances are often misleading, and an effort should be done to unveil this curious mismatch.
    Both legal orders suffer from what I call constitutional narcissism, which manifests itself through the urge to perpetuate the foundational constitutional moment. Unamendable clauses (Portugal) and quasi-unamendable clauses (Spain) recast one of constitutional theory’s inner paradoxes: Can the constituent power of the people be petrified in one historical constituent decision and constrain future democratic transitions? And what if a volatile contemporary majority seeks to undermine the democratic process and run against the constitutional DNA achievements of the last centuries?
    Even if the original version of the Portuguese Constitution prohibited several provisions from ever being amended, some of these provisions were indeed modified or removed in the 1989 constitutional amendment process. This occurred without major disagreement from the political organs, scholars, or the judiciary. Therefore, the vexata quaestio remains unanswered: Given their obsolescence or hindrance towards good governance, should entrenchment clauses be eliminated de jure (through a channelled constitutional amendment process, such as the double amendment procedure) or de facto (through a revolutionary process materialized outside of the constitutional framework)?


Catarina Santos Botelho
Assistant Professor and Department Chair of Constitutional Law at the Porto Faculty of Law, Universidade Católica Portuguesa. Email: cbotelho@porto.ucp.pt. I thank Paul Kahn, Nuno Garoupa, Richard Albert, Gonçalo Almeida Ribeiro, Yaniv Roznai, Ana Teresa Ribeiro, and Luís Heleno Terrinha for their very helpful comments.
Article

Access_open Constitutional Norms for All Time?

General Entrenchment Clauses in the History of European Constitutionalism

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords constitutional amendments, constitutional law, constitutional politics, constitutionalism, entrenchment clauses, eternity clauses
Authors Michael Hein
AbstractAuthor's information

    ‘General entrenchment clauses’ are constitutional provisions that make amendments to certain parts of a constitution either more difficult to achieve than ‘normal’ amendments or even impossible, i.e., legally inadmissible. This article examines the origins of these clauses during the American Revolution (1776-77), their migration to the ‘Old World’, and their dissemination and differentiation on the European continent from 1776 until the end of 2015. In particular, the article answers three questions: (1) When, and in which contexts, did general constitutional entrenchment clauses emerge? (2) How have they migrated to and disseminated in Europe? (3) Which constitutional subjects do such clauses protect, and thus, which main functions do they aim to fulfil?


Michael Hein
Adult Education Center Altenburger Land, Altenburg, Germany. Email: mail@michaelhein.de. All cited websites were visited on June 18, 2018. Unless stated otherwise, all references to constitutions in this article are taken from M. Hein, The Constitutional Entrenchment Clauses Dataset, Göttingen 2018, http://data.michaelhein.de. All translations are by the author.
Article

Better Regulation and Post-Legislative Scrutiny in the European Union

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2019
Keywords parliaments, post-legislative scrutiny, better regulation, European Union, legislation, regulation, democracy
Authors Davor Jancic
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article analyses the manner in which the EU’s Better Regulation Agenda impacts pre-legislative and post-legislative scrutiny by national parliaments, as two important dimensions of their function of democratic control over EU decision making. To this end, the article critically assesses the institutional arrangements and procedures foreseen under the Commission’s 2015 Better Regulation package and examines the 2017 review of the Better Regulation Agenda, which is a fresh push towards its enhancement. The article is structured as follows. After an overview of the legal grounding and evolution of better regulation in EU law, the analysis surveys the implications for parliaments of the Juncker Commission’s package of reforms, which are laid out in a Communication and implemented through a set of guidelines, a refurbished toolbox for practitioners, a revised Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT), and an Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Lawmaking adopted in 2016. On this basis, the article discusses post-legislative scrutiny of EU legislation on its own merits as well as from the perspective of its relationship with pre-legislative scrutiny. The latter is important since it is the most efficient way for parliaments to influence the contents of EU policies. The article concludes that the Better Regulation Agenda maintains the status quo in domestic parliamentary participation in EU affairs and misses the opportunity to fortify the latter’s European embeddedness.


Davor Jancic
Dr Davor Jancic is Lecturer in Law, Director of the English & European Law LLB programme, Department of Law, Queen Mary University of London.
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