Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 12 items for

  • Author or Editor: Sandra Kröger x
Clear All Modify Search
Differentiated Integration, Fairness, and Democracy

The European Union (EU) is often portrayed as sacrificing national diversity for European unity. This book explores the alternative of a flexible EU based on differentiated rather than uniform integration.

The authors combine normative theory with empirical research on political party actors to assess the desirability and political acceptability of differentiated integration as a means of accommodating heterogeneity in the EU. They examine the circumstances and institutional design needed for flexibility to promote rather than undermine fairness and democracy within and between member states.

Clear, balanced, and accessible, the book provides fresh thinking on the future of the EU.

Restricted access

The Introduction revealed how DI has pragmatic and normative virtues: it helps European integration to proceed through widening and deepening, and facilitates the accommodation of divergent national capacities and preferences. However, allowing such institutional diversity raises the question of whether DI will yield a form of EU cooperation all participants could find mutually acceptable. This chapter argues that DI plays a role in fairly combining three levels of cooperation within the EU: national cooperation between citizens within each of the member states, international cooperation between member states, and supra- and trans-national cooperation among EU citizens (Sangiovanni, 2013, p 217). DI operates most straightforwardly in rendering international cooperation consistent with different forms of national cooperation. Yet, in so doing it may detract from supra- and trans-national cooperation. This chapter explores these tensions and proposes how they might be resolved.

We consider DI from the perspectives of political justice, or procedural fairness, and social justice, or substantive fairness. If procedural fairness concerns fair participation within, and the legitimate exercise of power by, the political institutions of the EU; substantive fairness concerns the just distribution of social and economic goods, such as income and opportunities. Following Rawls (2001, pp 6, 15), we see impartiality and reciprocity as core norms of both kinds of fairness. We shall argue that while DI can be a source of unfairness, it can also facilitate forms of cooperation consistent with these norms by accommodating diversity.

Restricted access

Chapter 1 looked at how DI can either promote or weaken substantive fairness among both member states and citizens, and might be legitimized and constrained by certain democratic arrangements designed to ensure procedural fairness. Here we explore further how democracy may itself justify and require certain forms of DI. As we noted in the Introduction, one motivation for states to join the EU arises from the challenge globalization poses to democratic decision-making within them. Transnational processes and organizations, such as financial markets and multinational companies, can detract from the democratic control citizens are able to exert from within any single state over the social and economic forces to which they are subject. Likewise, the domestic policies of one state may produce either negative or positive externalities that undercut the contrasting domestic policies of other states. As a result, states become liable to domination by other states or various organizations and networks that operate across them. By cooperating with each other and integrating certain policy areas, states enable their citizens to retain control by placing both their interactions and the operations of various transnational actors under their mutual governance. However, for reasons we shall investigate, these joint arrangements may themselves become a source of domination that DI can alleviate. Domination consists in the ability of one agent or set of agents, such as a state or group of companies, to exercise power over another agent or agents in an arbitrary manner, without having to consult and respond to their views and interests (Pettit, 2010, pp 73–5, 77–9). Those dominated in this way must alter their behaviour so as to anticipate the possibility of such arbitrary acts, say by attempting to avert them by propitiating their dominators.

Restricted access

Recent developments in Hungary and Poland have pushed the issue of democratic backsliding to the centre of political and academic debates about the nature and future of the EU. Democratic backsliding consists of a retreat by an incumbent government from democratic values and practices with the intention of curtailing criticism and inhibiting democratic opposition. As such, it involves a shift from democracy towards autocracy. A number of commentators have argued that the demoicratic and flexible view of the EU advocated here cannot provide an adequate response to this unfortunate development. They fear the constitutional pluralist approach to EU law associated with this position undermines the legal remedies that might otherwise be available to act against such regimes, while the related justifications of DI explored in Chapters 1 and 2 might be employed by them to opt out from a commitment to meet the democratic standards enumerated in Article 2 as preconditions of EU membership (Kelemen, 2019). In this chapter we seek to respond to this criticism. We shall argue that a constitutional pluralist approach can offer a theoretically coherent rationale for countering democratic backsliding, including applying conditionality requirements to the receipt of EU funds and removing certain voting rights in the Council – measures which we dub ‘value’ DI.

Constitutional pluralism (CP) reflects the logic of the demoicratic conception of the EU as an association of democratic states that ‘govern together but not as one’ (Nicolaïdis, 2013, p 351), a view we have seen as underlying arguments for differentiated integration.

Restricted access

What do political party actors think about the questions we have tackled so far? How do they conceive of the substantive fairness of DI, its democratic credentials, and do they link DI to democratic backsliding? Before we delve into these issues, this chapter provides a general overview of political parties’ views on DI. Whereas recent research has emerged on how governments and citizens approach DI (de Blok and de Vries, 2020; Leuffen et al, 2020; Winzen, 2020), political parties’ views of DI have received limited attention so far. We address this gap in the literature by focusing on how political parties perceive of DI and which factors shape their assessments. We start by discussing the literature on political parties, European integration, and DI and present how we analysed our interviews. We then present party views on DI and relate them to the key cleavages that shaped their views. The conclusion summarizes the findings.

Existing research on the views of political parties on the EU has focused extensively on why political parties support or oppose European integration. Ideology occupies a prominent place in these accounts because while parties may shift their approach due to strategic considerations (Meijers, 2017), their ability to do so is constrained by their voters and activists, decision-making structures, and their programmatic reputation (Hooghe and Marks, 2018, p 112). Two ideological cleavages are considered as particularly important in explaining party views on European integration: the socio-economic left‒right cleavage, and the socio-cultural libertarian/cosmopolitan‒authoritarian/nationalist cleavage (Prosser, 2015; Hooghe and Marks, 2018; Schäfer et al, 2021).

Existing research on the views of political parties on the EU has focused extensively on why political parties support or oppose European integration. Ideology occupies a prominent place in these accounts because while parties may shift their approach due to strategic considerations (Meijers, 2017), their ability to do so is constrained by their voters and activists, decision-making structures, and their programmatic reputation (Hooghe and Marks, 2018, p 112). Two ideological cleavages are considered as particularly important in explaining party views on European integration: the socio-economic left‒right cleavage, and the socio-cultural libertarian/cosmopolitan‒authoritarian/nationalist cleavage (Prosser, 2015; Hooghe and Marks, 2018; Schäfer et al, 2021).

Restricted access

This chapter addresses the substantive fairness of DI, that is, its ability to ensure a just distribution of social and economic goods. The substantive fairness of DI has been subject to some disagreement. While some scholars have noted that DI could have unfair redistributive effects by diminishing solidarity (Michailidou and Trenz, 2018) and creating opportunities for free riding (Adler-Nissen, 2016, p 242), others have argued it can also allow the EU to respond to growing socio-economic heterogeneity (Bellamy and Kröger, 2017) and provide opt-outs for those who would be most negatively affected by a policy or unable to comply with its demands.

To understand how political parties perceive of the substantive fairness of DI, we shall analyse their views on whether it is compatible with the principles of impartiality and reciprocity introduced in Chapter 1. We distinguish considerations of fairness that arise from DI that stems from widening the EU from those associated with its deepening. As we noted in the Introduction, the drivers for DI operate differently in each of these contexts, and create divergent incentives for rich and poor, established and new member states. Richer and more established member states are likely to seek exclusions for poorer new members in the context of widening, and exemptions for themselves in the context of deepening. By contrast, new – and especially poorer – member states are more likely to seek exemptions for themselves and be more ambivalent about exclusions in the context of widening, while being concerned about exemptions for established states in the context of deepening.

Restricted access

This chapter addresses the concern that DI might undermine political equality among member states, thereby creating the possibility for some member states to dominate others. We relate this concern to what Max Heermann and Dirk Leuffen identify as a gap in the literature on DI – namely, the degree to which it has ‘remained remarkably silent with respect to questions of institutional design’ (Heermann and Leuffen, 2020, p 2). This silence is surprising given that DI can impact the institutional structure and decision-making processes at the EU level, potentially impairing their democratic character. We explored these issues through an analysis of the views political party actors have of DI’s dominating potential. We asked whether they perceive DI as creating domination, and how they consider its dominating potential might be mitigated through appropriate forms of governance for differentiated policy areas.

The text unfolds as follows. We start by setting out the democratic dilemmas of DI from a theoretical perspective. The ensuing empirical analysis engages with party actors’ views in regard to the institutional impact and governance structures of DI. The conclusion discusses the findings’ wider implications for the institutional design of DI.

How does DI relate to domination? Following Philip Pettit, we define domination as the capacity of an agent or agency to arbitrarily impose or influence another agent(s) or agency(s) to do their will, without having to deliberatively engage with or consider the reasons and interests of the dominated (Pettit, 2010, pp 73–5, 77–9). The potential for such domination arises from the conjunction of three circumstances – an imbalance of power, dependency, and the unconstrained or discretionary rule of an agent or agency (Lovett, 2010, pp 119–20).

Restricted access

Political parties have played an ambivalent role in regard to democratic backsliding. On the one hand, the literature has noted how in the EP, the European People’s Party (EPP) and (to a lesser extent) the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), backed by some of their constituent domestic parties, have undermined EU efforts by other parties in the EP as well as the European Commission to address democratic backsliding in Hungary and Poland (Kelemen, 2017; Kelemen and Pech, 2019; Meijers and van der Veer, 2019; Herman et al, 2021). On the other hand, research has also shown that political parties can exert peer pressure on backsliding parties, and help bring them back into the democratic fold (Sedelmeier, 2014). DI has been viewed by some as having a similarly ambivalent relation to democratic backsliding. We have discussed in Chapter 3 the argument that DI provides backsliding governments with dangerous legal tools to justify their practices. Whereas Daniel Kelemen and Laurent Pech have been strong proponents of this view (Kelemen, 2019; Kelemen and Pech, 2019), we have argued that DI, along with constitutional pluralism, actually supports the values of constitutional democracy under attack by governments engaging in democratic backsliding.

In this chapter, we focus on how political party actors conceive of the EU and DI’s role in matters of democratic backsliding, and what factors motivate their views. Complementing our interview material with a survey of 42 party actors (see the questions in Appendix C), we analyse whether they perceive democratic backsliding to be a problematic issue, if they consider DI responsible for it, and how they think the EU should respond to democratic backsliding.

Restricted access

We have argued that differentiated integration provides a mechanism for combining the demands for European integration with the recognition of national diversity. However, to do so we contend that DI must be understood not simply as strategically beneficial or expedient but also as ethically desirable and constrained. DI would prove objectionable and divisive, liable to undermine rather than to facilitate European integration, if it served simply to allow states to cherry-pick those policies they considered to be in their national interest narrowly conceived. As a result, we have sought to identify the conditions under which DI is necessary for and supports a just and democratically legitimate scheme of cooperation, and is recognized as such by political party actors.

To support a fair scheme of cooperation between EU member states, we have argued that DI must fulfil certain normative criteria. Procedurally, it should ensure that all member states and their peoples remain equal and have access to similar basic liberties. Both exclusions and exemptions should be agreed either unanimously by representatives of all member states when negotiating the accession of new members or amending the Treaties, or result from a member state choosing not to participate in an enhanced cooperation supported by at least nine member states. Moreover, participants must consult non-participants on the conduct of the policy area, which should remain subject to common Treaty provisions, and provide those excluded or exempted with the prospect of joining in the future.

Restricted access

Must European unity come at the expense of national diversity? Both proponents and opponents of European integration often believe so. Many supranationally minded pro-Europeans consider the European Union’s (EU) historical goals of peace and prosperity as requiring and promoting the overcoming of national differences through greater economic and political integration and the creation of a common European identity alongside the single market and monetary union (Haas, 1958, p 16). By contrast, many more intergovernmentally disposed pro-Europeans (Moravcsik, 1993, p 480), as well as outright Eurosceptics (Streeck, 2019), criticize such moves for failing to take account of the important social and economic disparities between the member states that they believe make common, supranational, ‘one size fits all’ policies inappropriate. They contend these differences both reflect and give rise to divergent political preferences that can only be adequately recognized by retaining national sovereignty and the capacity for self-determination of the various peoples of Europe. This book explores the attractions and drawbacks of differentiated integration (DI) as a way of reconciling these two camps. A mechanism increasingly adopted from the 1990s, it allows some member states to be exempted or excluded from participating in certain existing EU policies, and other member states to cooperate in new policy areas and integrate further than some may be willing or able to, with the result that not all policies and standards apply uniformly across the EU (Schimmelfennig and Winzen, 2020).

Restricted access