Constitutional Law of the European Union


About this course

This course addresses the constitutional foundations of the European Union with a special focus on the layered structure of European constitutional law. The relations between the different layers of governance - in particular between the national level and the European level - including some attention for the international law dimension will be studied. The course is centered around the following topics:

  • the division and balance of powers between the EU and the Member States on the legislative, executive and judicial levels;

  • the protection of fundamental rights;

  • the judicial dialogue between the ECJ and national courts;

  • the role of the ECJ, in comparison to the US Supreme Court

  • the relations between the EU institutions

  • the democratic underpinning of the EU

  • the economic constitution of the Union (most notably the EMU)

Each week a guiding lecture is organized in which the main issues of the week are identified, structured and discussed on the basis of a number of wide ranging doctrinal, legislative and case law texts. The weekly seminars are student-led and further elaborate specific issues within the general themes of the week.
The course is aimed at providing the student with a profound insight in and understanding of the constitutional foundations of the EU legal order. Next, the course is specifically designed for students to develop a critical attitude to the developments in EU constitutional law. To that end, the students are confronted with contrasting views in legal doctrine which they will evaluate, balance and apply to concrete legal situations. Moreover, such views are to be grounded in and confronted with constitutional theories on EU integration.
Argumentation skills are, thus, a key element of the course. The students write two short position papers, the purpose of which is to set up a concise argumentation on a specific issue in which they critically assess the existing legal framework and the available comments in legal doctrine. The findings of one of these papers is to be presented in class on the basis of a central thesis that will spark a class discussion.
The third element of the course concerns the confrontation with practice. A central idea within this course is that the constitutional foundations of the EU is not just of general and theoretical relevance, but directly affects professionals working in an EU law context. Guest lectures will be involved, which enable the students to engage in a discussion, to test the insights they have acquired and to find out the meaning of the developments in EU constitutional law to the everyday practice.
Place of the course within the curriculum:

  • Compulsory course in the major of the master European Law

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Learning outcomes

After this course:

  • the student has a profound knowledge and understanding of the constitutional structure of the EU;
  • the student is able to identify a normative perspective on the EU’s constitutional structure, identify, balance and evaluate various perspectives in doctrine and to develop his/her own well-substantiated views and relate these to constitutional theories on EU integration.;
  • the student is able to identify diverging and contrasting academic views on an issue in the literature;
  • the student is able to research and analyze a substantial quantity of legal documents and sources relating to specific topics of EU constitutional law;
  • the student is able to assess the legal value of the documents found;
  • the student is able to use this analysis and apply relevant legal sources in order to put forward a particular point of view in a position paper;
  • the student is able to orally present the outcome of the student’s research in English;
  • the student is able to use powerpoint presentations and videos if necessary in order to support the presentation of the position paper;
  • the student can lead a discussion in the class on the topic of the paper presented;
  • the student is able to review fellow students position papers and participate in academic discussion during classes.

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Good to know

You will be enrolled for this course by administration of the programme of this course.

Required prior knowledge

You must meet the following requirements

  • Enrolled for a degree programme of faculty Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance
  • Completed Bachelor

Link to more information

If anything remains unclear, please check the FAQ of Utrecht University.


  • Start date

    11 November 2024

    • Ends
      2 February 2025
    • Term *
      Period 2
    • Location
    • Instruction language
For guests registration, this course is handled by Utrecht University