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EU Integration and Differentiation for Effectiveness and Accountability

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EU IDEA (EU Integration and Differentiation for Effectiveness and Accountability)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2019-12-31

Differentiation has become the new normal in the European Union (EU) and one of the most crucial matters in defining its future. A certain degree of differentiation has always been part of the European integration project since its early days. The Eurozone and the Schengen area have further consolidated this trend into long-term projects of differentiated integration among EU Member States.

A number of unprecedented internal and external challenges to the EU, however, including the financial and economic crisis, the migration phenomenon, renewed geopolitical tensions and Brexit, have reinforced today the belief that more flexibility is needed within the complex EU machinery.

As differentiation is already producing a direct impact on the European citizens’ lives – which might increase in the coming years – information and awareness on these issues are essential for the development of any fruitful public debate at national and EU level. Due to its high level of complexity and technicality, differentiated integration is not always an easy subject to describe, but its understanding has to be considered as a matter of outmost importance for the democratic life in the European public space – as the EU with all its Member States should be treated. Also, it should not be overlooked that any decision taken by citizens and their political representatives may lead to relevant political implications for the EU as a whole.

EU IDEA’s key goal is to address whether, how much and what form of differentiation is not only compatible with, but is also conducive to a more effective, cohesive and democratic EU.

In line with this key goal, EU IDEA's overall objectives are:

1. analysing the causes and effects of differentiation and the conditions under which it facilitates policy-making, problem-solving and policy implementation by combining theoretical and empirical analyses;
2. situating differentiation in its historical context and draw on previous experiences with differentiated governance within the EU and in its relationship with external partners, including in-depth explorations of the philosophical foundations of integration and differentiation;
3. conducting a reappraisal of existing models of differentiation and contribute to the development of novel theories of differentiation with regard to governance and accountability;
4. unpacking the narratives on European constitutionalism and identity, including an analysis of the effects that these may have for relations with candidate countries, potential accession countries and associated third countries;
5. assessing opportunities, benefits and risks of more or less differentiation in key policy areas, in normative, institutional, political and societal terms, with a special focus on the Economic and Monetary Union and the single market, the foreign, security and defence policy, and the area of freedom, security and justice, including migration.
EU IDEA has started to work on Objectives 1–4, while Objective 5 will be addressed in the second reporting period. The points below summarises progress to date.
1. EU IDEA has worked to develop a multi-disciplinary – historical, philosophical, legal and political – investigation of the relationship between differentiation and the fundamental constitutional, institutional, political and ideational features of EU integration (Ds 1.1 2.1 and 3.1).
2. D 1.1 conducted an historical appraisal of the debate about differentiated integration from the beginning of the European Union integration process to the 2016 referendum on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU and focused on the connections of differentiation with political, institutional and societal crises.
3. EU IDEA started to explore how to break down the concept and practice of differentiation according to different modes, sites, levels and stages of governance (D 2.1). Given the unprecedented twist in the history of European integration represented by the prospective exit of the UK from the EU, the Observatory on Brexit (WP 7) has also closely followed the Brexit process.
4. EU IDEA developed a new collected dataset and developed a narrative analysis to outline how the EU narrative of political unity changes during times of increasing political differentiation and consequent differentiated integration (D 3.1) focusing on two selected cases, the period between 2000 and 2004 preceding the big bang enlargement as well as the years of the crises in the euro area between 2010 and 2014.
5. EU IDEA will focus on this objective in the next phases, looking in particular at the Economic and Monetary Union and the single market; foreign, security and defence policy; and the area of freedom, security and justice, including migration (WPs 4-5-6). EU IDEA will use the findings of this investigation to elaborate future scenarios and develop policy recommendations for EU and national decision makers on how to approach differentiation in order to ensure democratic and effective EU governance (WP 9).
EU IDEA’s ambition is threefold, as it aims at breaking new ground on differentiated integration in terms of scientific, public and policy impact. During the first reporting period, EU IDEA began to pursue mainly two types of expected impact: scientific and public. The third type, policy impact, will be primarily addressed in the second reporting period.

1) Scientific impact: in order to advance the knowledge of the phenomenon of differentiation in EU integration and disseminate the research findings, EU IDEA has already delivered three Research Papers (D 1.1 2.1 and 3.1) organised a kick-off meeting in Rome (MS 12) and a workshop in Gröningen (MS 1) and promoted the participation of the project’s researchers in academic international conference panels. Moreover, EU IDEA has established links with other relevant projects funded by the European Commission and including wide networks of academic institutions and researchers, such as: InDivEU, EU3D, and DiCE.
Finally, the findings have been circulated within a wide epistemic community through the project’s newsletter and the newsletters of Consortium members.
The findings will also serve as a base in drafting the expected policy-oriented deliverables.

2) Policy impact: empirical research on case studies, aimed at assessing whether different forms of differentiation are necessary or even desirable with a view to facilitating policy making, problem solving and policy implementation, will be the focus of the second phase of the project.

3) Public impact: in order to raise the number of well-informed people and avoid unexpected consequences in democratic processes connected to increased differentiation in the EU, EU IDEA has devoted much effort to guaranteeing the widest impact of the project’s outcome among Europeans. This impact has been ensured primarily through different communication activities. Examples of these activities include: a project website and different social media platforms – including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube, four issues of the project’s quarterly newsletter, three videos, one infographic, one podcast, one public event (in Rome).
Generally speaking, EU IDEA will diversify the audience targeted, and open its community to all those that will show interest