From Utopia to Apology: The European Union and the Challenge of Liberal Supranationalism

29 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2017 Last revised: 12 Feb 2018

See all articles by Daniel Francis

Daniel Francis

Harvard Law School; NYU School of Law

Date Written: June 4, 2017


Amid the wealth of scholarship on European integration and its values, positive political liberty tends to languish in the background while democracy, efficiency, and other goals occupy the limelight. This short contribution aims to correct that neglect by setting out a normative approach to European integration that places positive political liberalism front and center. I offer this approach, which I call liberal supranationalism, as a complement to existing normative accounts of European integration.

I make three claims. First, I claim that liberal supranationalism offers a particularly appealing normative orientation for the project of European integration. Second, I claim that, to the extent that liberal supranationalism is appealing, the political structure of the Union should be developed in such a way that maximally satisfies the demands of positive political liberalism across three dimensions of what I call the supranational governance triangle. Third, I claim that liberal supranationalism gives us a fresh perspective on a familiar topic—the loss of the Member State legislative veto—by highlighting an under-appreciated connection between rights of veto and exit in the European legal order.

Keywords: European Union, European integration, supranationalism, federalism, liberalism, autonomy

JEL Classification: N44, N94, H11

Suggested Citation

Francis, Daniel, From Utopia to Apology: The European Union and the Challenge of Liberal Supranationalism (June 4, 2017). Cardozo Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Daniel Francis (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States


NYU School of Law ( email )

22 Washington Square North
New York, NY 10011
United States

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