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Fundamental Rights and Federalism in the European Union and the United States: Challenges, Transformations and Normative Questions

Federico Fabbrini
December 2016

The paper examines the protection of fundamental rights in the European Union (EU), in comparison with the federal system of the United States (US). The paper claims that a comparative, federal approach to the study of the European multi-layered regime for the protection of human rights is valuable for three reasons. First, it facilitates the identification of the main challenges that arise from the overlap between national and supranational human rights sources. Second, it sheds light on the dynamic transformations which constantly take place in such a compound system. Thirdly, it problematizes engrained theoretical assumptions on the role of the states and the EU in the protection of fundamental rights, allowing for a deeper conversation on the normative questions which are raised by the need to reconcile states’ identity with citizens’ equality in a Union of states and citizens. 

Keywords: FundamentalRights, Federalism, EU, United States, comparison

Federico Fabbrini is Full Professor of European Law at the School of Law & Government of Dublin City University. He holds a PhD in European Law from the European University Institute.

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Acknowledgment: this paper is forthcoming in Antonia Baraggia & Lorenza Violini (eds), The Fragmented Landscape of Fundamental Rights Protection in Europe (Elgar 2017)

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