University of Groningen (RUG), The Netherlands

University of Groningen, Istituto Affari Internazionali, Centre for International Information and Documentation in Barcelona, Finnish Institute of International Affairs

The main objective of this work package (WP) is to explore the topic of differentiation from a historical perspective. As one of the preliminary building blocks for the rest of the EU IDEA project, this WP rests on the general notion that any meaningful study of the causes, mechanisms, consequences, limits and opportunities of differentiation needs to be grounded on a careful analysis of its historical dimension.

More precisely, the examination of the past can inform the current study of differentiation in four main ways: first, and more obviously, by providing evidence and lessons on previous experiences with differentiation (analogical approach); second, by identifying roots and origins of current challenges and problems in the (differentiated) integration process (genealogical approach); third, by exploring the development of differentiation and related concepts in the history of ideas on Europe (ideational approach); finally, by expanding the study of differentiation beyond Europe to find comparable cases to use as antecedents and benchmarks on which to base an analysis of differentiation in the EU (comparative approach).

This WP tries, on the one hand, to anchor the study of differentiation to a traditional approach to the EU’s past while at the same time coupling this mainstream approach with new and original research avenues, which would allow EU IDEA to think “outside the box” in its approach to differentiation. This combination of traditional and new approaches to the past of differentiation constitutes an important value added of this WP – one that will allow us greater scope and precision in studying differentiation as a political outcome, an explanatory factor, and a normative policy objective, and that will ultimately provide a solid basis for the rest of the EU IDEA project.