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Launch of ‘Flexible Europe. Differentiated Integration, Fairness, and Democracy’

When: 16 March 2022

Time: 1.45-3.30pm

Place: Zoom link

The Centre for Political Thought and the Centre for European Studies join forces for the book launch of ‘Flexible Europe. Differentiated Integration, Fairness, and Democracy’ by Richard Bellamy, Sandra Kröger, and Marta Lorimer.

Kalypso Nicolaidis, Professor at the School of Transnational Governance at the EUI in Florence and Professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford, and Professor Jonathan White, Professor in Politics at the LSE and Deputy Head of its European Institute have kindly agreed to share comments and reflections. Dario Castiglione will moderate the discussion.

Below, you will find a short abstract of the book. You may also want to have a look at the related blog or listen to a 45 minutes podcast interview with the three authors.

In their new book, Flexible Europe, Richard Bellamy (UCL), Sandra Kröger (University of Exeter), and Marta Lorimer (LSE) look at the normative desirability of institutional and legal flexibility as well as at the empirical support this flexibility generates amongst political party actors. This type of flexibility, dubbed differentiated integration in the scholarly literature, has made it possible for EU integration to proceed even when not all member states are willing or able to go forward. However, while differentiated integration allows the integration process to make advances that would not otherwise be possible, it also raises important questions about fairness.
In their normative analysis, the authors argue that differentiated integration should be both substantively and procedurally fair and identify the criteria it should respect to fulfil this requirement, such as ensuring that no member state become worse off than it currently is as a result of differentiated integration and that all are properly consulted and none arbitrarily excluded from policies they would want to take part in. Importantly, no member state should be able to opt out from Article 2 TEU or deny EU citizens their entitlements under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Empirically, the authors analyse whether these criteria resonate with political party actors from across the ideological spectrum in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Portugal and Romania. They show that while some regard it as a pragmatic way forward for the EU, and as potentially respecting the principles of substantive and procedural fairness, others worry about its negative implications for equality and solidarity. Party actors also have concerns that differentiated integration might facilitate democratic backsliding. The book makes for excellent reading for anyone interested in how to organise a fair and democratic order in the EU.


Date: 24 February 2022