External differentiation and the question of dominance

The EU has a broad range of affiliations with non-members. EU3D assesses to what extent these differentiated arrangements are associated with dominance.

EU3D is concerned with on the one hand understanding the nature and range of EU’s affiliations with non-members and what these tell us about the dominance. These relations are all based on voluntary cooperation, but the relations are highly asymmetrical. On the other hand, the EU’s external relations have profound internal implications for the EU: through enlargement (incorporating new members) and through its relations with a highly diverse and volatile neighbourhood the EU can so-to-speak ‘import’ diversity and forms of differentiation that increase EU vulnerability and raise the prospects of EU fragmentation.

Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are associated with the EU through the European Economic Area Agreement (EEA), as well as a wide range of other affiliations. Switzerland has a system of bilateral agreements. The UK has signed the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU, nevertheless, it is not yet clear what kind of relationship it will have with the European Union over time (and whether the UK will remain united).

Non-members have to comply with EU rules and regulations in order to get access to EU programs, including the internal market. EU3D provides a survey of the principles and procedures guiding the EU’s relations with affiliated non-members in order to get a clear sense of the relationship between degree of incorporation and compliance with EU rules and norms. To what extent do these forms of affiliation qualify as forms of voluntary submission where the EU plays the role of hegemon? EU3D examines this with reference to the different types of relationships the EU has with non-members: The relationship with applicant states, especially in Central and Eastern Europe; the EU relations to a post-Brexit UK; and the Union’s relationship to the EFTA states. In addition, EU3D examines the historical records, i.e. conditions surrounding CEE enlargement and the European Neigbourhood policy.

EU3D will compare and contrast the EU with other political systems and regional organisations, such as the US, Canada and ASEAN, to find out if the forms of differentiation-driven dominance that we may find in the EU are unique to it or whether the EU has features in common with other types of political systems.

Research coordinators

Dia Anagnostou

Senior Research Fellow



Chris Lord

Professor of Political Science



Sabine Saurugger

Professor of Political Science



Published June 3, 2021 11:20 AM - Last modified Sep. 1, 2021 10:13 AM