Flexibility and homogeneity: Two uneasy bedfellows

Lazowski, Adam (2014) Flexibility and homogeneity: Two uneasy bedfellows. In: Differentiated Integration in the EU: From the Inside Looking Out. Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Brussels, Belgium, pp. 37-45. ISBN 978-94-6138-373-0

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Official URL: http://www.ceps.eu/book/differentiated-integration...


Flexibility and homogeneity are two uneasy bedfellows of European integration. The key question is whether flexibility is a good way forward or whether is it a threat to integration, leading to erosion of coherence of policy-making and homogeneity of EU law. Experience proves that with 28 member states in the EU, flexibility is no longer a rarely used cushion on which an avant garde group of states may theoretically sit, but rather is an indispensable tool to keep the EU together. Indeed, flexibility may be considered as remedy for political stalemates but at the same time it guarantees that the majority may move forward. Nevertheless, the risks to homogeneity of the EU legal order resulting from flexible integration are rather obvious. It leads to deep fragmentation of the legal framework and makes it look like a chaotically designed spider web. To complicate matters even further, Europe of different speeds is not only a domestic affair for the EU. Various models of economic and legal integration without EU membership have been developed in the last 20 years. EU law has become an exportable commodity in its own right. Furthermore, in some cases EU law is applicable in relations to third countries. To achieve this, a degree of flexibility was required from both – the EU and its neighbours. At the same time numerous mechanisms to secure the homogeneity were required. This contribution argues that flexible integration is neither easy to design nor to handle in the EU’s external relations. With the exception of the EEA (European Economic Area), the existing institutional and procedural frameworks are not particularly supportive of homogeneity. Arguably, during the negotiations with the neighbouring countries too much emphasis was put on flexibility. Alas, this was to the detriment of the uniform application and interpretation of the EU acquis. The question this contribution aims to answer is whether this drive to export the EU legal order to third countries comes at too high a price for the homogeneity of EU law.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: University of Westminster > Westminster Law School
Depositing User: Dr Jennifer Basford
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2015 11:39
Last Modified: 22 Jan 2015 11:39
URI: http://westminsterresearch.wmin.ac.uk/id/eprint/14846

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