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Contemporary Issues of Public Law


Course description

The subject of the course is the crisis of representative democracy and the European Union under the pressure of the economic crisis. The course is divided into three circles. It examines the theories of representation and referendums (first circle), the genesis and development of American federalism (second circle) and, based on the conclusions of these two circles, assesses the new institutions of European economic governance and the case-law during the crisis in European, transnational and national level (third circle).

The course aims to:

  • shed light on mechanisms for distributing political responsibility in a federal system
  • emphasize on the challenges for the principle of democracy
  • enhance knowledge about the change and evolution of the European Union during the crisis
  • contribute to the awareness of the international and comparative dimension of the issues raised by the case-law during the crisis.


  • Introductory Analysis: New Challenges for the national Constitution and the European Union

First circle:

  • Representative and direct democracy
  • The English referendum on Brexit and the Italian constitutional referendum
  • The importance of Civil society for democracy

Second circle: american federalism

  • The US Central Bank
  • The interstate Commerce Clause
  • The reform of the American health system (“Obama care”)

Third circle:

  • The draft European Constitution and the Treaty of Lisbon
  • European economic governance and Theory of Public Choice
  • The European Stability Mechanism
  • Judicial review of emergency situations: from the first to the second Μemorandum and the PSI


  • The crisis of representative democracy and the crisis of Europe: a story of parallels

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course the student will:

  • have become familiar with the theoretical discussion of representative and direct democracy
  • be able to understand the basic mechanisms of the US federal system as well as the fundamental judicial opinions on the development of economic and monetary integration in the US
  • distinguish similarities and differences between American and European federalism
  • be aware of the key elements of European economic governance
  • be aware of the constitutional issues raised by the Greek case-law during the crisis
  • be able to read, analyze, evaluate and present to fellow students a high level court decision
  • have developed research skills in comparative constitutional law.