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Founding Principles of Union Law: a Theoretical and Doctrinal Sketch
Annual state of the art paper WP II / III Theories: Team 4 (D15d)
by Armin von Bogdandy
January 2009

This article seeks to further the understanding of the European legal discourse on principles as such, illuminating its dimensions, foundations and functions (II.). Further it analyses the diffuse use of the term ‘principle’ in Union law. With reference to a political act, the codification of Article 6(1) EU by the Amsterdam Treaty, it then defines as founding principles those norms of primary law which, in view of the need to legitimise the exercise of any public authority, determine the general legitimatory foundations of the Union (III). Finally, the viability of a comprehensive doctrine of principles for Union law and Community law will be debated (IV.).


I. Introduction

II. Theoretical Issues Regarding the Union’s Founding Principles

1. Founding Principles and Constitutional Scholarship

2. Three Functions of a Legal Doctrine of Principles

a. Doctrinal Constructivism and its Limits

b. The Role of Legal Doctrine for Legal Practice

c. Maintenance and Development of a “Legal Infrastructure”

3. Perspectives of Legal and Integration Policy

III. Constitutional Principles and Founding Principles

1. Principles in European Law

2. The Union’s Founding Principles and Their Constitutional Character

3. Principles of Public International Law

IV. Uniform Founding Principles in View of Heterogeneous Primary Law

1. Establishing Unity of Principle

2. Limits of a Unitarian Approach

V. Outlook


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