3 December 2021
Studio Europa Maastricht

Who calls the shots in Europe?

EU leaders hope the Conference on the Future of Europe, a wide-ranging programme of work focused on EU reform, will point the EU in the right direction for years to come. Studio Europa Maastricht spoke with assistant professor of European political history Karin van Leeuwen. The question that should be front and centre, she believes, is fundamental: who calls the shots? “Why should the EU decide that Hungary can’t do what it wants?’

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Who calls the shots?

Both conflicts – judges against politicians and Brussels against national capitals – overlap, says Van Leeuwen. “In both cases it is about sovereignty. Who calls the shots?”  

The answer to that question is enshrined in the constitution in many European countries, says Van Leeuwen. “For example, Germany’s constitution sets out  fundamental principles which take precedence over everything else, including international law.” That idea harks back to the early days of nation states, emphasises Van Leeuwen. “But now, the world – certainly Europe – looks very different.”

The tension between national law and EU rules has been one of the major pressure points in the EU since the bloc was founded, notes van Leeuwen. “Why should we listen to a European judge if our democracy wants something different? That’s a valid and frankly basic question.”

Read more on the website of Studio Europa Maastricht. 

More stories about Europe?
In the coming period, we will present several stories about Europe and Maastricht University as the European University of the Netherlands. From interviews to photo reports and from videos to columns. For this series we are also working together with Studio Europa Maastricht. Keep an eye on our Now@UM page!