Issue 2/2017 of integration

In the new issue of integration, Wolfgang Wessels and Johannes Wolters depict the flexi­bi­lization of integration policy in the EU along the dimension integrative vs. disin­te­grative flexi­bi­lization and analyze the oppor­tu­nities and risks related to this devel­opment. Barbara Lippert examines the ambiva­lences of differ­en­tiated integration as well as the resulting conse­quences for political cohesion in the EU. Wolf J. Schünemann and Franziska Petri identify various phases in the history of EU refer­endums, develop distinct criteria for the new type of offensive refer­endums of no-confi­dence and compare the latest EU-related refer­endums along these criteria before giving a short outlook on potential contagion effects of the new refer­endum type. Marc Ringel and Michèle Knodt analyse the legislative package “Clean Energy for All Europeans” concerning the method of open coordi­nation on the one side and elements of a more binding nature on the other side. They also discuss in how far the proposal is suited to deliver a tangible contri­bution to Europe’s energy and climate goals for 2030. Ingeborg Tömmel focuses on the inter­gov­ern­mental insti­tu­tions’ lacking ability to exercise power in relevant policy areas and the resulting impacts for the EU’s capacity to act. Besides the report on the fourth Germany-Portugal-Forum, the ‘Arbeit­skreis Europäische Integration’ reports on confer­ences about the EU stabi­lization policy in the Middle East and North Africa as well as about the European Central Bank.

Opportunities and risks of integrative and disintegrative flexibilization: the European Council facing a trilemma

Wolfgang Wessels and Johannes Wolters

Since the beginning of the process of European integration, policy-makers and scholars alike keep facing an ever-resurging question: Which states take part in which kind of expansion and extension of the common (West-)European construction? Along the dimension integrative and disin­te­grative flexi­bi­lization this article depicts the flexi­bi­lization of integration policy in the EU and analyzes the oppor­tu­nities and risks related to this devel­opment. Building on this analysis, the authors point out a trilemma for the Heads of State or Government when dealing with integrative and disin­te­grative flexi­bi­lization and define criteria and condi­tions for a sensible combi­nation of the two types.

Differentiated integration in the EU in the context of Exit, Accession and Association

Barbara Lippert

In the context of the concept and practice of exit, accession and associ­ation, the ambiva­lences of differ­en­tiated integration (DI) in the EU become evident. The political appeal of DI lies in its multi­func­tion­ality concerning the upgrading or downgrading of the acquis, and thus the ambiva­lence with regard to integration politics. In contrast to this internal flexi­bility, the EU demon­strates a rigid policy regarding the admission of new members and tolerates excep­tions on an interim basis only. The urge for more differ­en­ti­ation inside the Union could, however, open new ways to yet unknown partial member­ships. The DI of today is contrasted with the model of a “flexible union” which bears many risks. Whether DI facil­i­tates, impedes or destroys political cohesion, depends on whether the mutual trust between member states suffices and whether acceptable burden sharing can be estab­lished across all policy areas.

Eurosceptics on the referendum track? The Brexit vote and the new meaning of offensive referendums of no-confidence in the European integration process

Wolf J. Schünemann and Franziska Petri

The so-called Brexit refer­endum of June 2016 consti­tutes not only the beginning, but also the temporary point of culmi­nation of a new phase in the problematic relationship between European integration and direct democracy. Whereas during the 1990s and 2000s several EU-related refer­endums led to consid­erable irrita­tions in the integration process, today we are dealing with a new type of refer­endums we call ‘offensive refer­endums of no-confi­dence’. We find that the avoidance of refer­endums during the last couple of years by political elites did not lead to a silencing of Eurosceptics, but gave rise to claims for national refer­endums against the EU instead. To underline this argument, this paper first identifies three phases in the history of EU refer­endums. We then develop three distinct criteria for the new type of offensive refer­endums of no-confi­dence and compare the latest four EU-related refer­endums along these criteria. In conclusion, the article reflects on the potential contagion effect of this new refer­endum type and evaluates to what extent its use could pose a threat to the European integration project.

Governance of the Energy Union: soft control with hard features?

Marc Ringel and Michèle Knodt

The legislative package “Clean Energy for All Europeans” tabled by the European Commission aims at struc­turing the framework for climate and energy policies by 2030. Key element of the package is the energy gover­nance regulation which focuses on a better coordi­nation of national energy policies. Despite the recourse to the soft method of open coordi­nation, the regulation contains elements of a more binding nature, poten­tially leading to the point of inter­vening in the national energy mix of member states. In contrast, the draft regulation bundles planning and reporting oblig­a­tions to increase their political effec­tiveness and economic efficiency. With this proposal, the Commission walks a fine line: Member states will only accept the binding elements of the proposal once the associated benefits in terms of political effec­tiveness and economic efficiency prevail. Our contri­bution analyses these criteria and discusses in how far the proposal is suited to deliver a tangible contri­bution to Europe’s energy and climate goals for 2030.

The political crisis of the European Union – structural constraints and deadlock in decision-making in the multilevel system

Ingeborg Tömmel

Faced with a series of funda­mental crises, the EU actually appears signif­i­cantly constrained in its capacity to act. The causes for this situation are seen in recent trans­for­ma­tions within the Union, overlapping and reinforcing each other. The core thesis of this contri­bution is that the powers trans­ferred to the inter­gov­ern­mental insti­tu­tions in relevant policy areas could not be trans­formed into increased capac­ities to act, due to struc­tural constraints and changing circum­stances induced or reinforced by the crises. The article elabo­rates on the factors under­lying these devel­op­ments and highlights the resulting impacts based on selected empirical examples. Finally, it discusses possible ways out from the impasse.


Felix Dotzauer, Janina Granfar, Mariam Kheladze, Simon Schnepper und Jana Schubert
Das vierte Deutschland-Portugal-Forum auf der Suche nach gemein­samen Antworten auf europäische Herausforderungen


Michael Schweipert und Christian Weber
Die Stabil­isierungspolitik der Europäischen Union im Nahen Osten und Nordafrika

Frédéric Krumbein
Die Europäische Zentralbank – umstrittene Retterin des Euro

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ISSN 0720–5120

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