The future of differentiated integration: A ‘soft-core’ multi-clustered Europe of overlapping policy communities
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Citation (published version)Vivien Schmidt. 2019. "The Future of Differentiated Integration: A ‘Soft-Core’ Multi-Clustered Europe of Overlapping Policy Communities." Comparative European Politics, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp. 294 - 315. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41295-019-00164-7
In lieu of a conclusion to the Special Issue, this article discusses the future of Europe as one of differentiated integration. It argues that this future takes the form of member-states’ overlapping participation in the EU’s many policy communities, making for a soft-core Europe, as an alternative option to the hard-core around the Eurozone. The article contends that this multi-clustered Europe is the only feasible future, given the challenges facing the EU from its many crises, its problems of governance, and the difficulties of decision-making against a background of increasing politicization. But such differentiation is not without its problems, given EU decision-rules, the interconnectedness of policy arenas that can spell problems of spillover, and the need for deeper integration in some policy areas (e.g., migration) while others many benefit from less or more highly differentiated integration (e.g., Eurozone). Institutional reforms would also be necessary to ensure a positive future of differentiated integration: while the EU would continue to require a single set of institutions, it would need modified decision-rules to allow for more (and less) differentiation depending upon the area.