To what extent is the European Union, with the Constitutional treaty, an independent, democratic federal state?

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To what extent is the European Union, with the Constitutional treaty, an independent, democratic federal state?

This essay explains the concepts of federalism and its principles. It also looks at how the European Union works, what are the duties of different institutions and what are the relationships between the Union and the Member States and their areas of competence, which are stated in the draft Constitutional treaty. After analysing and relating both it shows to what extend is the EU a democratic federal state.

To start with it has to be defined what is called “federalism”. “Federalism is the form of government, or constitutional structure, found in federation. Federation is a state comprised of a number of self-governing regions (often themselves referred to as “states”) united by a central (“federal”) government. In a federation the self-governing status of the component states is constitutionally entrenched and may not be altered by a unilateral decision of the central government.” (). The main concept of federalism is the separation of power, in more detail it is the separation of power between the two levels of government: central national government and regional state government. Each level of power has its own duties and areas of jurisdiction. For example, it is traditional that in a federal state defence is under the central government’s control. It is important how the power distributes between the two government levels.  The legislative, financial and administrative functions should be distributed in such a way that both levels of government are equal in status. In a federation it is essential that the two levels of government, whatever might be the jurisdiction of their sphere of action, should be supreme in their jurisdiction. As the  federal system is complicated, there should be a clear and easy-understandable written constitution of the federal state, which will divide and explain the duties and responsibilities for government in different levels. It is an important aspect of the functioning of the whole system. The constitution of the federal state should also introduce a system of control of the different government levels, which will check that the national and regional governments represent their duties and cooperate with each other.

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 The European Union constitution was written, but as it was a need to restructure the constitutional treaties, not only because of the enlargement of the Union, but also because the treaties were to complex and made the whole system functioning not very efficient,so  the new draft constitutional treaties were introduced. The treaties are very important, because they determine what is in the European Union’s competence, how different institutions work, shows the decision-making process and the relationships of the European Union with other organisations. They also state the fundamental values and principles of the European Union and its Member States.


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