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Content archived on 2024-05-30

Dividing Powers among People(s): Towards a New Federal Theory for the 21st Century

Final Report Summary - NEO-FEDERALISM (Dividing Powers among People(s): Towards a New Federal Theory for the 21st Century)

How should political power be divided within and among national peoples? Can the classic theory of the sovereign and unitary State, emerging supreme in the eighteenth century, be applied to the social reality of the twenty-first century? There are no convincing answers to these questions today, as contemporary constitutional and legal theory still “come to terms” with two new international and national phenomena. First: the rise of international organizations, like the United Nations, and within Europe: the European Union, have severely challenged the idea of the sovereign state from the outside. And, second: at the same time, the myth of monolithic state power has come under attack from within states, as many modern states increasingly face demands for political and constitutional devolution (Italy, Spain, United Kingdom). This project has sought to make legal and philosophical sense of these developments through the lens of federal theory; and the the main outcomes of the project (to date) are:

(1) In terms of published outputs: four books plus one book-length special journal issue, as well as two dozen peer-reviewed articles and chapters in edited collections, as well an open access working paper series.

(2) Five international project conferences were organised, among them: a conference on “Globalisation and Governance” co-organised with the Lauterpacht Centre, Cambridge University; a conference on “Democracy Beyond Political Borders” organised with the assistance of LUISS (Rome); a conference on “The United Kingdom and the Federal Idea” hosted by Durham University, and a conference on “Constitutional Law in Context” held at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; and finally a conference on "Fiscal Federalism" co-organised with Cambridge University.

(3) The project created a companion webpage (cf. that contains a range of open access materials that are designed to help orient future students and researchers -- including a “Working Paper Series” that makes some of the research generated freely available to the wider scholarly or non-academic public.