In my professional activities relating to Europe during the past 30 years, including teaching, law practice and government service, I have often discussed with European friends what it means to be a European, and how that compares to being Dutch, Czech, Italian, etc. Invariably these conversations turn to deeper levels of identity, loyalty and political expectations. The EU and European integration are always swirling around these conversations, and it is clear that none of my acquaintances ever expects to lose his or her nationality, even in a highly integrated Europe. There are some lines, such as loss of one’s language or culture, that nobody – even today’s students who are possessed of a strong sense of European-ness – wants to cross. But what about significant loss of political power at the national level? Before the EU Constitution, such a prospect surfaced occasionally, especially at key moments of integration such as institution of the euro. However, most Europeans continued (and still continue) to view the Union as an undertaking of sovereign nations. The Constitution and its aftermath have renewed public interest in the overall course of European integration, and it is widely felt that the Convention on the Future of Europe proposed something more than just another treaty amendment. Many Europeans believed that the Constitution represented a major change in the landscape – change was ultimately unacceptable in the form proposed. The discussions raised by the Constitution have inspired the theme of this treatise: What are the existing dividing lines in the EU system, and how might the Constitution have caused them to shift? Doubts over the Constitution’s ratification never deterred the many scholars who analysed the document, and in the Introduction I address why the demise of the Constitution has not discouraged my own efforts.

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Zwaan, Prof. Dr. Mr. J.W. de (promotor)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus School of Law

Sieberson, S. C. (2007, October 19). Dividing Lines between the European Union and Its Member States: assessing the impact of the Constitutional Treaty. Retrieved from