Differentiation as a Response to Crises?
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Differentiation as a Response to Crises? book
The European Union (EU) is at a crossroads. This phrase, initially coined by European Commission President Romano Prodi (2001) in a message to Silvio Berlusconi, has been the leitmotif of prominent politicians at the EU level such as Verhofstadt (2006) or Barnier (2012) over the past couple of decades. Even though discussions on the future of Europe at times of crisis is far from being a new phenomenon, these have intensified following the Great Recession of 2007–08 and the subsequent European ‘polycrisis’ (Zeitlin et al. 2019). The White Paper on the Future of Europe, published by the European Commission (European Commission 2017) against the backdrop of Brexit and increasing levels of Euroscepticism across the continent, illustrates the scope of discussions that took place. This White Paper presented five broad scenarios for the future of European integration. Three of these implicitly refer to mechanisms of disintegration and differentiation, namely scenarios two (‘nothing but the single market’), three (‘those who want more do more’) and four (‘doing less more efficiently’). Even though the impact that this White Paper had on the 2019 European Parliament elections was limited (see Gänzle et al. 2020), it did stimulate the debate on whether differentiated mechanisms of integration and disintegration should become even more utilised following the most recent wave of crises faced by the EU, which culminated with the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) decision to leave the EU.