'The way of the world', international economic law and national constitutions: Irish constitutional sovereignty and the Eurozone crisis
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The height of the Eurozone crisis was accompanied by the emergence of the aphorism: 'when solvency goes, sovereignty goes'. Within the Irish legal system, both commentators and judges have been forced to engage with the question of what a constitution can deliver, and to what extent understandings of constitutional sovereignty must evolve, when a nation is confronted with the realities of sovereign insolvency. While issues of sovereignty are often analysed through the prism of politics or economics, or through the design or evolution of the constitutional order of the European Union, this article focuses upon the place of the legal concept of sovereignty within the national constitutional order. The Republic of Ireland, a state whose birth and early years was shaped by the terms of an international treaty, has long possessed distinct anxieties regarding the ability to make and approve international agreements. In Thomas Pringle v The Government of Ireland, the Irish Supreme Court sought to harmonise traditional projections of sovereignty with the evolving nature of international governance. The challenge was to identify the borderline between an international agreement which represents an act of sovereignty and one which involves a transfer of sovereignty to bodies lying outside the Constitution.
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