Beyond Federal Dogmatics

The Influence of EU Law on Belgian Constitutional Case Law Regarding Federalism

Stef Feyen

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Rethinking the relationship between EU law and Belgian national law
The relationship between EU law and national constitutional law, including constitutional law in federalism matters, has been subject to an ongoing scholarly debate. This monograph contributes to this debate in two ways. The author argues for an approach to constitutional law that goes beyond the classic - coined dogmatic - understanding of constitutional case law regarding federalism as expounded in Belgian academia. Building on that basis, he sets out to rethink the framework within which the connection between EU law and national constitutional law can be understood. The analysis delves into the relationship (and sometimes tension) between ‘rule-of-law' values (which may serve as checks upon instrumental forms of reasoning) and the toolbox deployed in constitutional court case law to accommodate several rather pragmatic needs. 

This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).

Table of contents

Reader information and acknowledgments
Some commonly used abbreviations


General purpose and method: beyond dogmatics
General object: federalism

1. Influence and the toolbox concept: Some preliminary considerations pertaining to method

1.1 Methodological problems pertaining to the object of the inquiry
1.2 The toolbox concept

2. Belgian federalism: A cursory overview

2.1 A doubly stratified federal structure
2.2 Bipolar and centrifugal federalism institutionalized
2.3 The Constitutional Court situated in the Belgian federal system

3. The Belgian Constitutional Court and federalism

3.1 Different ways of examining (case-)law
3.2 "Foundational" principles
3.2.1 Conferral
3.2.2 Material exclusivity
3.2.3 Territorial exclusivity
3.3 "Incidental" principles in the toolbox
3.3.1 Specific "(con)textual" constraints
3.3.2 Proportionality
3.3.3 Federal loyalty
3.3.4 Implied powers
3.3.5 Economic and Monetary Union (EMU)
3.4 Interaction in the Constitutional Court's toolbox

4. European influence on Constitutional Court case law

4.1 Preliminary observations
4.2 European law and the Constitutional Court
4.3 European law as a streamlining tool
4.3.1 European law as a (quasi) political tool for evacuation of conflict
4.3.2 European law as an argumentative tool in the context of the EMU
4.3.3 European law as an argumentative tool reinforcing cooperation
4.4 Rule of law values and the limits of instrumentalization by the Constitutional Court
4.4.1 Authoritative texts
4.4.2 Precedent
4.4.3 Coherence, with the example of coherent EMU-principles
4.5 More explanatory value? Two caveats

5. Three partial explanations and the road ahead

5.1 Integration of European law in constitutional jurisprudence
5.2 The (ever) expanding Europe
5.3 Diversity in unity: autonomous concepts
5.4 The road ahead


Format: Monograph - paperback

Size: 240 × 160 × 15 mm

280 pages

ISBN: 9789058679383

Publication: May 27, 2013

Languages: English

Stock item number: 81881

Stef Feyen is Fellow with the Research Foundation - Flanders (fwo), affiliated with the Institute for Constitutional Law (KU Leuven) and promovendus with the Ius Commune Research School (Maastricht University).

'In this book the author confirms his reputation as an outstanding scholar. He combines a thorough knowledge of the law with a strong familiarity with legal theoretical literature. The book provides many fascinating insights, legal dogmatic as well as theoretical.'
Jan Velaers, Professor of Law, Antwerp University