Institute for European Politics (IEP) Germany

Institute for European Politics, Institute for Democracy “Societas Civilis” – Skopje, Institute of International Relations – Prague, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, Sabancı University

The growing number of EU Member States has increased heterogeneity among them concerning their political willingness and objective ability for (further) European integration. Additionally, in certain policy areas the EU has expanded its integration beyond its membership borders (e.g. Schengen and the EEA), Turkey and the Balkan countries are lingering at the EU’s doorsteps to accession and the EU has established close forms of association within the European Neighbourhood Policy, the Eastern Partnership and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements.

In the framework of the overarching narrative of European constitutionalism and identity “united in diversity”, this WP’s objective is to identify the scope and form of homogeneity that is required to make heterogeneity a tool for integration rather than disintegration. The research thus aims to understanding two things:

  1. What are the main elements of the narrative of ‘united in diversity’ in European constitutionalism and identity respectively? Does unity exist and if yes how is it constituted?
  2. What is the potential of differentiation to change this narrative/picture? This means, what are the effects of differentiation on the discourse on European constitutionalism and identity respectively? Differentiation can be perceived either a challenge threatening the EU’s unity or a tool for effectively managing heterogeneity among member states and thus providing unity between them.

Differentiation in this context includes three dimensions: deepening, widening and disintegration. Concerning the latter both the exit of a Member State, especially if it negotiates an association deal with the EU that stand out as more attractive than full membership, as well as secession tendencies of individual regions (e.g. Scotland and Catalonia) affect European constitutionalism and identity alike.

In terms of the EU’s relationship with non-EU States with close association and formal arrangements with the EU, differentiation can either facilitate a unitary approach towards these States that would protect the unity of the EU or rather encourage a splitting up of the EU’s unity, because differentiated arrangements might become attractive to EU-members, as well.

We will focus our analysis on political unity and legal uniformity as core narratives of European constitutionalism and the notions of cultural and political European identity in terms of common identity and European citizenship. We acknowledge rule of law to represent a third core narrative of European constitutionalism that has come under severe strain. Yet, in our analysis we consider it as one of the EU’s core values (Art. 2 TEU) that cannot be compromised on and hence we exclude differentiation as a political option in this field.