Institute for European Politics (IEP), Germany

Institute for European Politics, Jacques Delors Institute, Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Istituto Affari Internazionali, Institute of International Relations, Sabancı University, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, Centre for European Reform

In recent years, differentiation has featured prominently not only in academic but also in political debates. Particularly after the UK’s decision to leave the EU the remaining 27 Heads of State or government started to discuss the future of the Union without the UK (Bratislava Process) and differentiation as a policy choice to provide the most appropriate framework. The Commission’s White Paper on the future of the EU, for instance, outlines five scenarios including the prospect of differentiation (European Commission, 2017) and the French President Macron as well as German Chancellor Merkel promote a multi-speed Europe. At the same time, all Member States witness increasing nationalist backlashes and Eurosceptic trends that make differentiation an even more important tool for preventing the EU’s disintegration.

Against this backdrop and to complement the analysis of differentiation as a policy practice (WPs 4-5-6), WP 8’s objective is to assess prospects of differentiation as a policy choice by investigating the national preferences on EU integration both at government (national and local), political and public levels. The WP will detect the level of support for/opposition to European integration in the policy areas where differentiation takes place.

The aim is to understand in a comparative way:

  1. whether there is a difference between elites’ and public opinion on the benefits and disadvantages of differentiation;
  2. what form and type of differentiation the predominant policy choice in Member States would be, and
  3. whether and if so which type of external differentiation would represent a solution for the EU’s relations with a future UK, the ‘eternal accession candidate’ Turkey or countries in the European neighbourhood such as Ukraine.