The Routledge Handbook of Differentiation in the European Union offers an essential collection of groundbreaking chapters reflecting on the causes and consequences of this complex phenomenon.

With contributions from key experts in this subfield of European Studies, it will become a key volume used for those interested in learning the nuts and bolts of differentiation as a mechanism of (dis)integration in the European Union, especially in the light of Brexit. Organised around five key themes, it offers an authoritative "encyclopaedia" of differentiation and addresses questions such as:

  • How can one define differentiation in the European Union in the light of the most recent events?
  • Does differentiation create more challenges or opportunities for the European Union?
  • Is Europe moving away from an "ever closer Union" and heading towards an "ever more differentiated Union", especially as leading political figures across Europe favour the use of differentiation to reconcile divergences between member states?

This handbook is essential reading and an authoritative reference for scholars, students, researchers and practitioners involved in, and actively concerned about, research in the study of European integration. As European differentiation is multifaceted and involves a wide range of actors and policies, it will be of further interest to those working on countries and/or in policy areas where differentiation is an increasingly relevant feature.


The Introduction and chapters 13, 21, 30, and 35 of this book is available for free in PDF format as Open Access from the individual product page at www.routledge.com. It has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.

chapter 1|16 pages


Differentiation in the European Union as a field of study

part 1|132 pages

Conceptualizing differentiation

chapter 2|11 pages

Studying differentiated integration

Methods and data

chapter 4|16 pages

Differentiated (dis)integration beyond Europe

A comparative regionalism approach 1

chapter 5|15 pages

De facto differentiation in the European Union

Circumventing rules, law, and rule of law

chapter 8|16 pages

From integration to fragmegration

Political symbols and the emergence of differentiated European identities

part 2|131 pages

Institutionally based differentiation

chapter 10|15 pages

An ever more fragmented Union?

On the emerging relevance of the institutional implications of differentiated integration in the EU

chapter 11|14 pages

Promise unfulfilled?

Managing differentiated integration in EU secondary law through enhanced cooperation 1

chapter 12|16 pages

Differentiation in the European Parliament

United about diversity? 1

chapter 13|16 pages

Differentiation and the European Central Bank

A bulwark against (differentiated) disintegration?

chapter 16|16 pages

Third-country participation in EU agencies

Towards “condominio”? 1

chapter 17|16 pages

The Council of the European Union

Organizational and social dynamics of differentiation

part 3|160 pages

Policy-based differentiation

chapter 19|15 pages

Brexit and the Common Fisheries Policy

Opportunities for multi-level differentiated (dis)integration?

chapter 20|15 pages

The European Asylum Policy

Core state powers, flexibility and differentiated integration

chapter 23|21 pages


A formula for positive integration in European defence

chapter 25|18 pages

Differentiation and social policy

A sustainable way forward?

part 4|156 pages

Territorial differentiation

chapter 28|18 pages

Risky advantageous differentiation

Iceland and the EEA

chapter 29|20 pages

The Swiss and Liechtenstein relations with the EU

An ongoing institutional challenge

chapter 31|18 pages

Visegrád Four and EU differentiated integration

Activities, perception and self-perception after the refugee crisis 1

chapter 32|14 pages

Poland as the (new) awkward partner

Differentiated integration or differentiated disintegration?

chapter 34|16 pages

European Neighbourhood Policy

Differentiated integration beyond the EU's Eastern and Southern borders

chapter 35|16 pages

Differentiation at the local level

An overview of subnational authority networks in the EU 1

part 5|138 pages


chapter 36|14 pages

Brexit as a phenomenon

National solidarity as a tool against the European project?

chapter 37|14 pages


Negotiating differentiated disintegration in the European Union 1

chapter 39|15 pages

Differentiation and power asymmetry

How Brexit is changing UK relations with Czechia and Slovakia

chapter 41|16 pages

Border conflicts and territorial differentiation after Brexit

The cases of Northern Ireland, Gibraltar and the UK Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus

chapter 42|16 pages

Growing apart together?

Brexit and the dynamics of differentiated disintegration in security and defence

chapter |13 pages


Polycrisis and resilience in the European Union: Covid-19 and avenues for future studies