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Abstract

This paper argues that the relationship between law and politics must be reconfigured within the European Union. Dissecting recent crises in economic, social and political organisation within Europe with reference to the three ‘fictitious’ commodities of Karl Polanyi, we find that law in Europe has contributed to de-legalisation, de-socialisation and disenfranchisement. Moving on to review the potential for law to respond to crisis through new paradigms of conflict resolution as suggested by Ralf Dahrendorf, we find that the steering capacity of law is nevertheless limited if it fails to establish a sustaining relationship with politics. Our conclusions are modest: conflict–law constitutionalism cannot solve Europe's many crises. However, it does represent a new paradigm of law within which relations between European law and European politics might be re-established—a vital step to overcoming crisis.