Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


MAXCAP — Result In Brief

Project ID: 320115
Funded under: FP7-SSH
Country: Germany
Domain: Society

A view of the EU’s integration capacity

An EU study performed a critical analysis of the effects that enlargement has had on the EU’s integration capacity.
A view of the EU’s integration capacity
The EU-funded project MAXCAP (Maximizing the integration capacity of the European Union: Lessons and prospects for enlargement and beyond) examined both the EU’s internal and external integration capacity. Internal integration capacity involves the EU’s ability to integrate New Member States and absorb the resulting societal consequences. External integration capacity refers to the ability of the EU to integrate non-Member States through necessary reforms.

MAXCAP’s findings on the EU’s integration capacity convey a varied picture. The EU has proven highly capable of integrating the new members into its decision and policy making system. Enlargement has not impaired the functioning of the EU – the speed of decision making has increased, and more rather than less legislation is being adopted. In addition, the accession of 12 new Member States has not led to a deterioration of compliance with and implementation of EU law, nor has it led to a greater use of soft law and differentiated integration in the long run.

The project also found that enlargement has had positive effects for the 2004-2007 entrants: democracy, governance capacity, and economic welfare have improved on average all over Central and Eastern Europe since the mid-1990s. Overall, the combination of accession conditionality and assistance has produced beneficial economic and political effects in Central and Eastern European countries. Whereas the gap between old and new member states has narrowed, it has not closed, however.

By contrast, EU external policies without a membership perspective do not produce any systematic democratic or good governance effects. Deep economic integration without concomitant political integration and the employment of a regime to anticipate and alleviate the potential large-scale negative consequences of rule transfer is even likely to harm neighbouring countries.

Finally, membership has a negative impact on democracy and governance capacity when compared with pre-accession conditionality. The EU has not prevented democratic backsliding and its post-accession development assistance in the form of cohesion funds increases divergence of prosperous and backward regions within the new member states.

Related information


Integration capacity, MAXCAP, Member States, regulatory integration, civil society organisations
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