In theoretical terms, federalism can be difficult to pin down and conceptions of federalism vary greatly depending on the opinions of those espousing them.

One of the key things to remember about federalism is that it is a political ideal as well as an explanatory framework.

In European integration terms, we can talk of federalism in two ways –

  1. Federalism as a prescriptive model for federal EU integration and development (essentially prescribing how the EU should develop in the future).
  2. Federalism as an explanatory framework for analysing the nature of the contemporary EU (essentially analysing how the EU is today).

Read the extract on federalism here.

Note in particular

  1. The political dimension of federalism as an aspiration for how the EU should be organised
  2. Federalism as a way of explaining or analysing the EU