Claiming sovereignty, backing it up, and being called to follow: The case of Swiss-EU bilateralism

Pusterla, Elia R.G. (2015) Claiming sovereignty, backing it up, and being called to follow: The case of Swiss-EU bilateralism. Centre for International Studies.

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What if Switzerland were to be asked to back up with empirical evidence its claims of sovereignty with regard to bilateral relations with the European Union? To answer this question, this paper proposes a discussion to lay the foundations of a test that can bridge the gap between theory and practice of sovereignty and avoid the scientific impasse due to the widespread neo- realist hypocrisy according to which states are sovereign until proven otherwise. This paper firstly gives a precise conceptual content to Swiss claims of sovereignty through the adoption of a deconstructionist notion of sovereignty revealing its spectral presence/absence consisting of the claim of a present and future ability to provide unconditioned and ordering decisions however constantly deferred. This temporal différance creates a hypocritical mechanism giving credibility to claims of sovereignty just due to a lack of counterevidence. Thanks to this hypocrisy, the sovereign can even retroactively claim the sovereign nature of its forced choices. Such a theorisation of sovereignty applies to and depicts Swiss claims of sovereignty in the frame of the bilateral relations with the European Union. Indeed, Switzerland claims to be sovereign as long as it can maintain the ability to have its say within that integrated supranational context. Focusing on empirical evidence from the implementation rather than negotiation of Swiss-EU bilateral agreements, any deferred temporality can be neutralised as well as any possible hypocritical claim of sovereignty.

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