“Federation and the Federal Concept” is concerned with a critical revision of federal theory and a redefinition of the concepts of federation and federalism.
The terms ‘federation’ and ‘federalism’ are often used in the wider debates on existing federations as well as on several federalization processes around the world, yet in a way that sometimes reveals fundamental misunderstandings and widespread confusion about their actual content. Indeed, the terms ‘federation’ and ‘federalism’ should not be used liberally to describe any international integration process – any attempt at creating an ‘ever closer’ union – or any attempt at intra-state devolution. Federalism is neither a ‘unionist’ concept nor a ‘separatist’ device. On the contrary, federalism bears a very specific and unique meaning, and refers to a very particular form of government and to a strictly limited union that embodies the dogma ‘unity-in-diversity’, by institutionalising diversities and solidifying territorial separation while unifying only those strictly defined sectors and policy areas where common coordinated action at the central level is considered essential by all the participants. The fundamental feature of federation is that the levels of government are strictly and constitutionally independent of each other in their own sphere of jurisdiction and coordinate. No government can be mere implementing body rather than policy-making body. Both levels of government possess exclusive powers.
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