The European Union as a system of differentiated integration: interdependence, politicization and differentiation

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Series Details Vol.22, No.6, June 2015, p764-782
Publication Date June 2015
ISSN 1350-1763
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This contribution conceptualizes the European Union (EU) as a system of differentiated integration characterized by both variation in levels of centralization (vertical differentiation) and variation in territorial extension (horizontal differentiation) across policy areas. Differentiation has been a concomitant of deepening and widening and has increased and consolidated as the EU's powers, policy scope and membership have grown. Turning to explanation, the contribution attributes the pattern of differentiated integration in the EU to the interaction of interdependence and politicization. Differentiation among the member states (internal differentiation) results from supranational integration under conditions of high interdependence and politicization. By contrast, external differentiation (the selective policy integration of non-member states) occurs in highly interdependent but weakly politicized policy areas. These constellations are illustrated in case studies of differentiation in the internal market, monetary union and defence.

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