Towards a Dual Copernican and Sovereign Revolution?

IED Strategic Research Paper by Jean-Louis Bourlanges



In the 1950s, Europe had both an external adversary and an external guardian. Its role was the exercise of soft power. In the 1990s, it thought it no longer had an adversary and that the time had come for the exclusive reign of soft power. Today, it finds itself in a threatening environment with an uncertain guardian: soft power is no longer enough.

It is a legal paradox to talk about sovereign power in relation to the European Union. Since Jean Bodin, sovereignty has been defined as a power bound only by itself, a power that has what German jurists instructively describe as “competence-competence”, something that the European Union is far from being able to claim.

In fact, in the language used by our leaders and commentators on public life, there is almost an equivalence between the concepts of European sovereignty and independence. It is not a question of confiscating the powers of Member States to the profit of the Union, but of putting the European Union and its member nations in a position to effectively resist the threats, constraints and competition that challenge, surround and besiege it from the outside.

This entails that the leaders and citizens of the Union must adopt the principle of a dual Copernican and sovereign revolution, that profoundly modifies the balances of the initial pact concluded between Member States.

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About the author

President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Jean-Louis Bourlanges has been a Member of the French Parliament for the Hauts-de-Seine since 2017. A professor of literature, alumni of the French National School of Administration, and former associate professor at Sciences-Po, he is an honorary Master Counsellor to the French Court of Auditors.

He was a Member of the European Parliament (1989-2007) where he was President of the Committee on Budgetary control, General Rapporteur on the Budget, President of the Committee on Liberties, Member - and then President- of the EU-Poland Joint Parliamentary Committee. He regularly takes part in the podcast “Le nouvel esprit public” by Philippe Meyer, published on www.lenouvelespritpublic.fr.

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