The Routledge Handbook of Differentiation in the European Union

EU3D researchers have contributed with chapters in the book the Routledge Handbook of Differentiation in the European Union, edited by Benjamin Leruth, Stefan Gänzle and EU3D researcher Jarle Trondal

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About the book

The Routledge Handbook of Differentiation in the European Union offers an essential collection of groundbreaking chapters reflecting on the causes and consequences of this complex phenomenon.

With contributions from key experts in this subfield of European Studies, it will become a key volume used for those interested in learning the nuts and bolts of differentiation as a mechanism of (dis)integration in the European Union, especially in the light of Brexit. Organised around five key themes, it offers an authoritative "encyclopaedia" of differentiation and addresses questions such as:

  • How can one define differentiation in the European Union in the light of the most recent events?
  • Does differentiation create more challenges or opportunities for the European Union
  • Is Europe moving away from an "ever closer Union" and heading towards an "ever more differentiated Union", especially as leading political figures across Europe favour the use of differentiation to reconcile divergences between member states?

This handbook is essential reading and an authoritative reference for scholars, students, researchers and practitioners involved in, and actively concerned about, research in the study of European integration. As European differentiation is multifaceted and involves a wide range of actors and policies, it will be of further interest to those working on countries and/or in policy areas where differentiation is an increasingly relevant feature.

Chapters by EU3D researchers:

2. Studying Differentiated Integration

Marian Burk and Dirk Leuffen (EU3D)

This chapter critically takes stock of methods and data sources used in the study of differentiated integration (DI). We first catalogue and exemplify prominent methods of DI research, before quantitatively tracing the usage of these methods over time. The analysis of a DI bibliography, spanning the period 1995–2020, reveals that DI predominantly has been a playground for qualitative research in the past. However, more recently, an upsurge of methodological pluralism becomes detectable in our data. We take this as an indication for a growing maturity of the field. Before concluding the chapter, we briefly introduce and discuss a number of datasets that are already used, or that may potentially be useable, in the study of DI.

3. On the Legitimacy of Differentiated Integration

Erik O. Eriksen (EU3D)

Differentiated integration (DI) is a puzzle from the point of view of legitimacy. On the one hand, DI is associated with illicit rule as people are subjected to laws, the making of which they cannot influence on an equal basis. Under circumstances of far-reaching legal, administrative and economic integration, DI entails arbitrary rule, viz. dominance t; it undermines the fundamental conditions of democratic self-rule. Some forms of DI are in breach with the principle of equal membership in a self-governing republic. On the other hand, DI allows for cooperation even when there is disagreement and when mutual dependence is unequal. DI enables cooperation in specific fields, lowers transactions costs and reaps some of the benefits of European public goods. In order to square this circle, I derive an indirect legitimation theorem from Kant’s category of permissive law of public right. This theorem comes with a time and knowledge index, which ties the legitimacy of DI to the level of knowledge and to a particular point in time. This theorem establishes conditions under which DI would enjoy the presumption of being legitimate. Differentiation in this perspective is not perceived as a threat to the European project, but rather as a vehicle of integration.

6. Constitutive Differentiation

John Erik Fossum (EU3D)

Constitutive differentiation refers to the fundamental architecture of the political system in differentiation terms: how the territorial, functional, hierarchical and person-incorporation dimensions are configured. The chapter starts by spelling out the distinct challenges associated with clarifying the nature of the European Union (EU)’s differentiation configuration, and why we need to relate back to the nation-state. Thereafter, I present the constitutive principles of the nation-state, key to which is sovereignty, and show how that shapes the distinct nation-state differentiation configuration. The EU transforms state sovereignty, but the lack of agreement on which polity configuration should constitute the EU makes it difficult to spell out a distinct EU differentiation configuration. Comparing the EU’s actual differentiation pattern with the nation-state configuration is problematic, due to the uncertain status of the EU configuration in constitutive terms (including the EU’s democratic deficit). In order to make up for that uncertainty, I present two EU constitutional models. The first has roots in intergovernmentalism. The chapter unpacks it with reference to the differentiation dimensions that were discerned from the nation-state model. Thereafter, I list some of the intergovernmentalism-inspired accounts of the EU, and through that show that such accounts must exceed well beyond intergovernmentalism to account for present-day EU. The second constitutional model has roots in federalism, and the chapter shows that this model must also be stretched to take the EU’s patterns of differentiation properly into account.

9. Differentiation and Segmentation

Jozef Bátora (EU3D) and John Erik Fossum (EU3D)

It is widely recognized that the European Union (EU) that emerged from the financial and refugee crises of the last decade has become more differentiated. Such a development brings forth important questions about the nature and character of the EU as a political system, and the kinds of processes and mechanisms that drive its development. An important problem is that neither differentiated integration nor differentiation says much about the positive character or the distinguishing features of the EU as a political system. The claim that we set forth in this chapter is that the notion of the EU as a segmented political system provides a more apt and precise characterization of the EU as a political system. In addition, the notion of segmentation helps to capture some of the distinct dynamics that propel the EU’s development. The chapter starts by providing a brief overview of how the EU literature refers to differentiated integration and differentiation. It thereafter defines segmentation and segmented political order and shows how and in what sense we may talk of the EU as a segmented political order. The third and final part spells out the most important similarities and differences between on the one hand differentiation/differentiated integration, and on the other segmentation/segmented political order.

12. Differentiation in the European Parliament

Guri Rosén (EU3D)

This chapter explores how Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) approach differentiation. Differentiation in the European Union (EU) has often been described and discussed as a matter for member states to accommodate their various concerns whilst being able to progress the integration process. At the same time, differentiation has broad implications not only for member states, but also for EU’s millions of citizens. Integrating measures of different speeds and an array of complex formats, as well as possibly dis-integrating processes, triggers questions about cohesion and governance, but also about social support and the very existence of the EU. Being directly elected by the EU citizenry, it is the role of MEPs to voice the viewpoints of their constituents. Therefore, this chapter will address how MEPs experience and evaluate processes of differentiation. Although the European Parliament has proclaimed that the debate about differentiation should not be about pro-differentiation versus anti-differentiation, this chapter demonstrates that MEPs have opposing visions of the future of the EU, and they evaluate proposals for differentiation differently. The analysis shows how MEPs view the issue of differentiation as closely connected to the question of democracy in the EU. However, it is identified as both a remedy to lack of democracy, and as a threat to it.

15. Differentiation and the European Court of Justice

Sabine Saurugger (EU3D) and Fabien Terpan (EU3D)

The aim of this chapter is to analyse the place of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the increasingly differentiated political system of the European Union (EU). If a constitutional court’s role such as the ECJ’s is to guarantee the homogenous application of law in a political system, is increasing legal and judicial differentiation blocking its actions? The chapter starts with distinguishing two main sources of differentiation in the legal and judicial realm of the EU. First, differentiation results from the resistance of national courts towards the constitutionalization of European law, which led to constitutional pluralism. A second source of differentiation is linked to the fact that national governments have departed from the notion of a European rule of law homogenously applied on the EU territory, introducing specific types of differentiation – vertical and horizontal – with the aim to offer the member states’ way out of a negotiating deadlock, and/or preserve member states sovereignty. Confronted with these dynamics, the Court has actively developed instruments to restrict legal and judicial differentiation through its activism in fields where its competences are limited at best and through the establishment of the sociological instrument of judicial dialogue. Using approaches stemming from legal, sociological as well as network studies traditions, this chapter shows that while legal differentiation is indeed increasing, the ECJ has reacted in order to keep this process at a minimum.

27. The Nordic Countries as Pioneers of Differentiation

Benjamin Leruth and Jarle Trondal (EU3D)

This chapter focuses on the reasons why the Nordic countries have been considered as a laboratory for the study and development of models of differentiated integration. From Denmark’s sticky opt-outs to Sweden’s de facto exemption from the Economic and Monetary Union, the Nordic countries have been pioneers in the field, although Finland remains in the inner core of the European Union (EU). This chapter compares the situation in four Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) and focuses on the roots of differentiation in the Nordic countries. It also considers why despite sharing a series of socio-economic and cultural similarities, each Nordic country opted for a different type of relationship with the EU. It also focuses on cooperation between Nordic political parties outside of the EU.

Full info

The Routledge Handbook of Differentiation in the European Union 
Benjamin Leruth, Stefan Gänzle and Jarle Trondal (eds)

Routledge, London, 2022
ISBN: 9780429054136 (online)
DOI: 10.4324/9780429054136

Published July 27, 2022 10:58 AM - Last modified July 27, 2022 10:58 AM