Presentation by Dr Jeff King, Tuesday 28 October 2014 at 3.00pm

On Tuesday 28 October at 3.00pm in the Neil MacCormick Room (Old College) Dr Jeff King, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Laws, University College London (Visiting Humboldt Scholar, Humboldt University of Berlin (2014-15)) will speak on

‘The Constitutional Concept of a Social State’

Abstract: Conventional Anglo-American understandings of constitutionalism suggest that the welfare state is not an appropriate subject for constitutional regulation, either because of political disagreement over its form or because of the dynamic nature of social policy. Conservatives, neoliberals and progressives alike tend to meet on this plateau, which favours a minimalist constitution. Yet a number of states in Europe, including France, Spain and notably Germany, diverge from this understanding, and their constitutions contain principles declaring that each country is a ‘social’ state. The courts of such countries, in turn, tend to give interpretations of their respective constitutions and bills of rights in particular that are protective of established social programmes and in some cases require important social investment. This lecture will explore the German experience, where the ‘Sozialstaatsprinzip’ has been the subject of extensive scholarly inquiry and has had important influences on the shape of constitutional, private and social law since the founding of the post-war Republic. The lecture will also briefly consider the antecedent experience of social constitutionalism under the Weimar Republic (1919-1933), and the broader socio-political context surrounding the slow but steady flowering of this constitutional concept.

Discussants: Prof. Michael Adler and Prof. Stephen Tierney

The meeting will be followed by the usual informal reception

Presentation by Dr Pau Bossacoma i Busquets, Tuesday 14 October 2014 at 3.00pm

On Tuesday 14 October at 3.00pm in Room L07 (basement, Old College) Dr Pau Bossacoma i Busquets, Research fellow, Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) Faculty of Law, Barcelona, and Visiting researcher at Edinburgh Law School will speak on

‘Constitutional Roads to Independence: 

The Problematic Catalan Case in the Light of the Scottish Experience’

Taking into consideration the very recent Scottish independence referendum, in this presentation I will introduce the legal strategies and barriers that political and legal actors have developed to proceed and to block the secession of Catalonia from Spain. My presentation is meant to foster a comparative debate. Some secessionist and sovereigntist experiences that have taken place over the last two decades (among them Quebec, Montenegro, Kosovo and Scotland) have boosted a transformation of their moral and legal justifications from a right to national self-determination to a rather ambiguous principle of democracy. Bearing in mind that the Independence of Catalonia would be conducted within a liberal democracy, the Catalan sovereigntist movement (following the Basque example) has concentrated its claim on the so-called “right to decide”. The “right to decide” seeks to hold a referendum of independence based on the democratic principle. In this way, the “right to decide” illustrates the tendency to move from a national theory of secession towards a democratic choice theory.
I will present the main legal strategies that Catalan political and legal actors have debated to call for a referendum on independence, only the first of which (see below) has been tried to date, without success, and solely the last of which appears capable of circumventing the constitutional barriers ruled by the Spanish Constitutional Court:
1. A transfer or delegation of powers under article 150.2 of the Spanish Constitution to call a referendum of independence
2. A referendum provided in article 92.1 of the Spanish Constitution
3. A referendum by the Catalan Statute 4/2010 which needs the authorisation of the Spanish Government under article 149.1.32
4. A non-referendary consultation by the Catalan Statute, passed on the 19th of September 2014, which tries to avoid the need for the mentioned authorisation
5. A constitutional amendment

Download the abstract and relevant provisions of the Spanish Constitution and Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia: CLDG_Pau Bossacoma i Busquets_Abstract and Relevant Provisions

The meeting will be followed by the usual informal reception.