chapter  11
17 Pages

Flexibility and closer cooperation: evolution or entropy?

In the mid-1990s flexibility seemed a panacea for the ills of the European Union (EU), allowing some Member States to forge ahead with further integration without requiring the participation of states unwilling or unable to proceed. Flexibility was lauded by European zealots in Bonn and recalcitrants in London as a way of managing integration among states with diverse attitudes and attributes, and of preparing the Union for eastward enlargement. But there was no consensus on the character or mechanics of flexibility, evidenced in the variety of terms mentioned: multi-speed Europe, variable geometry, a Ia carte Europe, hard core and closer cooperation acquired their own political resonance.