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Giulia La Torre

GEM-DIAMOND doctoral fellow

ESR 16 – The European Constitutional Counter-Revolution

Broadly interested in the inter-linkages between the authority of law, constitutional discourse and the legitimacy of adjudication, I am presently engaged in the substantive study of the primacy of EU law. The focus of my current research lies, more specifically, on the conceptual profile, normative underpinnings and relational positioning of the EU law principle of primacy, which I intend to reconstruct largely on the basis of the CJEU’s jurisprudence and in the light of the persistent, and ongoing, wave of national constitutional contestation.

Host Institutions

Of authority and competing loyalties: Understanding the contested primacy of EU law
Essays on the intellectual contours, normative underpinnings, judicial conceptualization and justificatory function of the EU Law principle of primacy


  • Nicolas Levrat
  • Anne Weyembergh

Research abstract

The aim of the thesis is to unearth the conceptual, normative and structural vulnerabilities that fuel contestation to the supreme authority of EU law, thereby furthering the understanding of EU law as a distinct, yet paradigmatic, social phenomenon. The principle of primacy, as the primary ordering property of the EU legal system, is an unequaled medium for the conceptual ordering, normative reconstruction and contextual appreciation of the authority of EU law. The judge-made formula of primacy thus serves as the main vehicle for the exploration of a larger three-dimensional theme, namely the character, binding power and scope of EU law. Accordingly, the thesis should be thought of as a multi-step intellectual effort, which, using primacy as a connecting agent, moves from the level of semantic-conceptual categorization to the more substantive stratum of normative discourse and further on to the wider legal-institutional arena so as to make sense of the EU's law claim to ultimate allegiance and unrivalled obedience.

Research Question(s)

Research question (i): What is the nature of the primacy principle, and what does it say about the character of EU law? Or, to put it in another way, what are the intellectual orientations that undergird primacy as a sui generis legal and political form, and what myriad of long-standing conceptual incongruities, ambiguities and contradictions do these theoretical persuasions bring to light within the doctrinal and judicial self- understanding of EU law?

Research question (ii): What are the foundations of the primacy principle, and what do they reveal about the binding power of EU law? Or, in more concrete terms, what are the normative premises underpinning primacy as an EU-specific legal construction, and what underlying weaknesses in the motivational force of EU law do these assumptions ultimately betray?

Research question (iii): What is the role of the primacy principle within the EU legal order, and what does it tell us about the scope of EU law? Or, stated differently, how does the principle of primacy relate to and work in concert or at cross-purposes with other principles of the EU legal matrix, and what deeper structural constraints on EU law do these patterns of inter-systemic relations make plain?

Research Hypothesis(es)

The research hypothesis can be formulated as follows:

The EU law principle of primacy suffers from three major weaknesses – (i) conceptual fuzziness, (ii) thin normative content and (iii) an uncertain relationship to other principles of EU law that is at best ambiguous, and at worst fraught with tension – which, when pieced together, leave the authority of EU law vulnerable to mischaracterization, resistance and manipulation.
Giulia La Torre García is a Marie Sklodowska-Curie doctoral fellow with the Université de Genève and the Université libre de Bruxelles. Giulia holds a Master’s degree in European Law from the Université libre de Bruxelles and a double Bachelor’s degree in Law and Political Science from the University of Valencia. During her undergraduate studies, Giulia spent an Erasmus year at the Karl-Franzens Universität Graz, where she began to specialize in EU law. She is a qualified lawyer at the Spanish Bar Association and acquired legal experience in the Labour and Criminal Law Departments of various law firms. Giulia’s broader research interests lie in the fields of EU law, constitutional law and legal theory, with a focus on the interplay between national constitutionalism, EU principles of constitutional law and legal reasoning in the Court of Justice of the EU.