Conceptualizing a Differentiated Europe

Janis A. Emmanouilidis

ELIAMEP Policy Paper No 10 / June 2008

Athens 11/2008


The European Union requires more different speeds if an EU 27+ wants to remain effective. The increasing economic, financial, social and geopolitical heterogeneity among EU countries, diverging political objectives and expectations concerning the future path of integration, and the need to respond to the pressure from third countries aiming to join the European club while enlargement fatigue is widespread call for a higher degree of differentiation. The question is not whether there will be a differentiated Europe, but how it will or rather how it should look like.

The paper conceptually distinguishes between six forms of differentiation in an attempt to bring more analytical clarity into the debate: (1) creation of a new supranational Union; (2) cooperation via established instruments and procedures; (3) intergovernmental cooperation outside the EU; (4) differentiation through opt-outs; (5) affiliation beneath full membership; (6) negative differentiation through withdrawal.

The paper critically analyses and evaluates the major political and institutional implications and consequences of these diverse forms of flexible integration. At the end it sketches the main conclusions concerning the future path towards a more differentiated Europe and thus asks which path(s) towards a more differentiated Europe should be avoided and which preferred.


Janis A. Emmanouilidis, Conceptualizing a Differentiated Europe, ELIAMEP Policy Paper No 10, Athens, June 2008

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