Blog: Voice, Disloyalty and Brexit: The Attractions and Pitfalls of Differentiated Integration
The latest TransCrisis blog post by Nick Sitter, CPS research affiliate and SPP professor
The European Union is fundamentally about power-sharing. The original six member states built a political system based on consensus. It allowed a supranational executive to manage day-to-day policy, but legislation required the consent of most of its members. In practice, this meant unanimity. As the EU grew, member state governments accepted that participation in the EU came at the price of having to accept some policy measures with which they did not agree.
In general, EU's member states have been able to live with the resulting set of compromises. Broadly speaking, their options were – as Albert Hirschman memorably put it half a century ago: Exit, Voice, and Loyalty. If governments could not loyally implement EU policy (or get away with creative forms of transposition), they could voice opposition and attempt to change it. This resulted in a range of opt-ins and opt-out – or differentiated integration.
Ultimately, a dissatisfied state could leave the EU. Greenland did so in 1985, and now the UK is on its way out. But, in the meantime, others have explored a new option – disloyalty. Since 2010, the Fidesz government in Hungary has confronted the EU openly, demanding substantial changes to EU policy and circumventing EU law by way of creative compliance. Since December 2015, the newly elected Polish Law and Justice (PiS) government has embarked on a similar strategy.
Read the whole post at the TransCrisis website.