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Cover The Constitutional Heritage of Europe
series "Saggi"
pp. 200, 978-88-15-08422-4
publication year 2002


The Constitutional Heritage of Europe

As Europes subjectivity becomes more pronounced and the idea of a "European constitution" gathers momentum, Alessandro Pizzorusso reflects upon Europes constitutional heritage and the historical and cultural values shared by all European states. If "heritage" denotes something which parents bestow unto their children, then contemporary Europe surely possesses a heritage: a set of shared constitutional traditions which render it a unitary and unique actor. This heritage comprises principles and values pertaining to individuals basic rights (which, in each single European state, have been progressively and more extensively acknowledged and protected) and the organisation of public power in terms of democracy and the rule of law. These traditions have been acknowledged, first by the European Court of Justice and then by the Maastricht Treaty, as "general principles of community law". The author investigates these traditions from historical, constitutional, and comparative perspectives and draws the conclusion - and this is the major idea underpinning the volume - that such traditions are the essential core of an already existant constitution. Although this constitution is unwritten, much as the English one is unwritten, centuries of shared history and civilisation have endowed it with efficacy and power.

Alessandro Pizzorusso is a member of the Accademia dei Lincei and one of the founders of the Italian Association of Constitutionalists; he also teaches Public Law Institutions in the Faculty of Jurisprudence of the University of Pisa.