"Werkstatt Schweiz": Verfassungspolitik im Blick auf das kunftige Gesamt Europa | LegalAnthology | December 04, 2014


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"Werkstatt Schweiz": Verfassungspolitik im Blick auf das kunftige Gesamt Europa

["Workshop Switzerland": Constitutional Policy for a Unified Europe of the future]

a) Background

The text appeared as a chapter in Peter Häberle's seminal book Europäische Rechtskultur, Versuch einer Annäherung in zwölf Schritten (European Legal Culture: Attempt at an Approach in Twelve Steps) (1994). The time of the publication falls in the phase of an ever-growing need in Switzerland to deal with the issue of European integration actively and to embark on a gradual "Europeanization" of Swiss law. As a participating observer, he raises the issue about what Swiss law, in particular Swiss constitutional law, can contribute to the legal developments in a Europe defined beyond the European Union. The text is a testimony of an encounter between legal systems, which takes into account the possible influence of the Swiss system on the EU-systems. Häberle undertakes this noble task by making use of a cultural theory-based approach to comparative law.

Peter Häberle is an eminent emerite Professor of Constitutional Law and Legal Philosophy of the University of Bayreuth, who focused on comparative constitutional law and cultural theory as applied to law in his later years. He is widely recognized and well reputed outside of Germany and has a special and affectionate relationship to Switzerland, Swiss law and Swiss legal culture. He has taught at St. Gallen University for more than 20 years, where he received an honorary doctorate degree. Häberle is a leading scholar in facilitating and guiding a legal discourse between European legal systems and beyond. In this collection, he introduces a rare perception of a sophisticated outside and non-Swiss scholar looking at the Swiss legal system, in particular in the area of constitutional law as a laboratory and experimental working place "Werkstatt" - so to speak, an atelier and laboratory - with the intent to identify possible contributions of Swiss law to the future of Europe as a whole.

b) Summary

Peter Häberle notes a growing insecurity in the "Kleinstaat" (small state) Switzerland and a nagging doubt about its own identity, in particular with the Swiss political will and participation faced with the developments of the European Union. Switzerland has become a victim of the exclusive and thereby narrowing focus on the EU alone and has limited itself to the general principle of "Euro-compatibility".

From the perspective of theory of constitutional law, the text attempts to identify the positive and genuine contributions of Swiss legal culture to the emergence of Europe at large. What can Switzerland contribute to the recreation and reconstructions of the countries in Eastern Europe? What can Switzerland, based upon its assets and achievements, contribute to the institutional structure of Europe at large beyond the European Community of 1992?

The text deals with specific assets of Switzerland, which could be used at the level of creating national and supranational constitutional structures in Europe. Häberle outlines his perspective on a democracy with a referendum; federalism, the subsidiarity principle and regionalism;  high standards of a culture of constitutional fundamental rights; the political and legal dimensions of the freedom of the languages; high standards in the legal culture in private law based upon the Swiss civil code of 1912; the revisions of the cantonal constitutions since 1965 and the Swiss legal theory of government of pan-European quality with its contributions.

Häberle encourages Switzerland to position itself more actively and with greater self-consciousness in the institutional creation and legal reception process of Europe at large; this encompassing the Council of Europe and the KSZE process. Switzerland in Häberle's view should participate in the shaping of the contours of a Europe of cultures apparently and visibly, in which the heritage of Switzerland has participated actively from the start of the European movement.

c) Text

You can find a scan (PDF) of the original text here: E_2.7_HAEBERLE_Werkstatt


Text Information

December 04, 2014

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