The choice for differentiated Europe: an intergovernmentalist theoretical framework

  • Frank SchimmelfennigEmail author
Original Article


On the intergovernmentalist account, differentiated integration is an institutional design helping to overcome negotiation deadlock caused by international heterogeneity. Heterogeneity of state preferences, dependence and capacity creates demand for differentiated integration. Whether differentiated integration will actually be realized, however, also depends on the supply of viable and mutually beneficial solutions for all participants in differentiation. The size of the integrationist group needs to be large enough to provide the collective good and achieve economies of scale; externalities between the differentially integrated groups must be weak; countries need to be in a favourable institutional bargaining position. The article focuses on theory, but also discusses empirical findings and policy proposals on differentiated integration.


Differentiated integration European Union Institutional design Intergovernmentalism 



A previous version of this paper was presented at the APSA Convention 2018 in Boston. I thank Mark Pollack for comments. Additional thanks go to the reviewers for CEP and the guest editors, Sergio Fabbrini and Vivien Schmidt.


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© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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