EU Integration and Differentiation for Effectiveness and Accountability

This project studies the past, present and future of differentiated integration models in the European Union’s governance with the aim of facilitating policy-making, problem solving and policy implementation in the EU.

Project number: GA: 822622 Duration: 2019-2021 (Closed ) Budget: CIDOB: 219.536,25€; Total: 2.991.471,25€


The evolution of the EU’s politics and policies has demonstrated that differentiation can no longer be treated as an anomaly in the integration process, posing a key set of questions to academic and policy-makers alike: whether, how much and what form of differentiation is not only compatible with but also conducive to a more effective, cohesive and democratic EU. The EU IDEA project will conduct an historical and philosophical investigation of the origins of differentiation, within and outside the EU (WP 1); analyse differentiation – in relation to issues of governance and accountability (WP 2) and narratives on EU constitutionalism and identity (WP 3); investigate the practice of differentiation in three key policy areas (WPs 4-5-6: Economic and Monetary Union, EU Foreign security and defence policy and Area of Freedom, Security and Justice, including migration) and in light of the prospects for Brexit (WP 7); and assess the political and public preferences at national level (WP 8). The findings of the analysis will be instrumental to defining the criteria – at institutional, policy and societal levels – to assess future scenarios of differentiation as a tool of Integration (or disintegration) and to develop policy recommendations for EU and national policy-makers with an aim to a more effective and accountable Union (WP 9).

CIDOB’s responsibilities and tasks in the project include conducting research and coordinating the work of the thematic package dedicated to the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice, including migration. Our expertise will also contribute to the study of the historical and philosophical foundations of differentiation, the analysis and comparison of differentiation practices in the Economic and Monetary Union and the study of treaty-based mechanisms for differentiation in the EU Foreign security and defence policy.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 822622.


The project is composed by a European consortium of 15 partners led by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI).


Istituto Affari Internazionali (I.A.I.)


Centre For European Reform (CER)

(CIDOB) Barcelona Centre for International Affairs 

EGMONT - Institut Royal Des Relations Internationales

European Policy Centre (EPC)

European News Service SRL (Eunews)

Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA)

Institut Za Demokratija Societas Civilis Skopje (IDSCS)

Ustav Mezinarodnich Vztahu V.V.I. (IIR)

Notre Europe - Institut Jacques Delors Association (JDI)

Norsk Utenrikspolitisk Institutt (NUPI)

Sabanci Universitesi (SU)

Institut Fur Europaische Politik Ev (IEP)

Universite De Geneve (UNIGE)

Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG)

Former researchers involved in the project:

Research areas: