Does Differentiation Lead to Disintegration? Insights from Theories of European Integration and Comparative Regionalism
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Differentiated integration is often considered ‘integration gone wrong’ and not a normal and permanent feature of the ever larger and more heterogeneous European Union. With the growing impact of the widening, deepening and politicization dynamics, the Union has been conceptualized as a ‘system of differentiated integration’. At the same time, concerns over ‘disintegration’ are mounting. In this light it seems crucial to refl ect on the relationship between differentiation and disintegration: does the former lead to the latter? Should we prevent further differentiation, or promote it as means of making the EU more successful? On one hand, European integration theories provide few adequate answers on the mechanisms and conditions for disintegration. On the other hand, analysis of other regional organizations puts the European dilemma into perspective, and it seems that the existence of various forms of differentiation does not prevent successful cooperation.
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