Multi-speed Europe

European Union

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government
of the European Union

Multi-speed Europe or two-speed Europe (called also "variable geometry Europe" or "Core Europe" depending on the form it would take in practice) is the idea that different parts of the European Union should integrate at different levels and pace depending on the political situation in each individual country. Indeed, multi-speed Europe is currently a reality, with only a subset of EU countries being members of the eurozone and of the Schengen area. Like other forms of differentiated integration such as à la carte and variable geometry, "multi-speed Europe" arguably aims to salvage the "widening and deepening of the European Union" in the face of political opposition.

Reasons and actuality of the concept

The concept entered political discourse when, after the end of the Cold War, an eastward enlargement of the European Union began to materialise and the question arose how "widening" could be made compatible with "deepening",[1] i.e., how the imminent enlargement process could be prevented from diluting the idea of an "ever closer union among the peoples of Europe", as the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community of 1957 had put it. In 1994 – still at a time of the EU12 – the German Christian Democrats Wolfgang Schäuble and Karl Lamers published a document[2] in which they called for a Kerneuropa (= core Europe). This idea envisaged that "core Europe" would have a "centripetal effect", a magnetic attraction for the rest of Europe. A precursor to that concept had been a proposal by two advisors to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Michael Mertes and Norbert J. Prill, published as early as July 1989. Mertes and Prill called for a concentric circles Europe, built around a federal core consisting of the EU6 and like-minded EU member states.[3] In 1994 they partly revoked their original idea, arguing that the post-Cold War EU would rather look like a "Europe of Olympic rings" than a "Europe of concentric circles".[4]

The multi-speed Europe concept has been debated for years in European political circles, as a way to solve some institutional issues. The concept is that the more members there are in the Union, the more difficult it becomes to reach consensus on various topics, and the less likely it is that all would advance at the same pace in various fields.

Inner Six and Outer Seven.

Intermediate forms could be limited to some areas of close cooperation, as some historical examples are given below. It is also possible now for a minimum of nine EU member states to use enhanced co-operation, but this new framework has been used only once. A second proposal, a unified European patent, is nearing completion [as of December 2010] with only two countries (Italy and Spain) not participating.[5]

The idea of a multi-speed Europe has been revived because of the following initiatives:

Furthermore, important events were

Currently in the EU there are the following cases of non-uniform application of the European Union law:

permanent deviations[8] request by states to cooperate more than EU
(post-accession: request to participate at EU level instead of less)
request by states to cooperate less than general EU level
allowed by the EU Enhanced co-operation Opt-outs in the European Union
Minor EU law derogations or exemptions
special territories status
not allowed by the EU Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification
Eurozone/Schengen suspensions
(post accession: benchmarks for adoption of EU level)

Overview of non-uniformity inside the EU

Participant Schengen AFSJ CFR Euro EEA ESM EFC SRM Euro+ CSDP Prüm Patent Divorce Symbols
Austria Austria x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
Belgium Belgium x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
Bulgaria Bulgaria c c x c x o x c x x x x x x
Croatia Croatia c x x c c o o c o x o o o o
Cyprus Cyprus c x x x x x x x x x o x o x
Czech Republic Czech Republic x x x c x o o c o x o x o o
Denmark Denmark x o x o x o x c x o o x o o
Estonia Estonia x x x x x x x x x x x x x[9] o
Finland Finland x x x x x x x x x x x x o o
France France x x x x x x x x x x x x x o
Germany Germany x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
Greece Greece x x x x x x x x x x c x x x
Hungary Hungary x x x c x o x x o x x x x x
Republic of Ireland Ireland o o x x x x x x x x o x o o
Italy Italy x x x x x x x x x x c x x x
Latvia Latvia x x x x x x x x x x o x x o
Lithuania Lithuania x x x x x x x x x x o x x x
Luxembourg Luxembourg x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
Malta Malta x x x x x x x x x x o x x x
Netherlands Netherlands x x x x x x x x x x x x o o
Poland Poland x x o c x o x c x x o x o o
Portugal Portugal x x x x x x x x x x c x x x
Romania Romania c c x c x o x c x x x x x x
Slovakia Slovakia x x x x x x x x x x x x o x
Slovenia Slovenia x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
Spain Spain x x x x x x x x x x x o x x
Sweden Sweden x x x c x o x o o x c x o o
United Kingdom United Kingdom o o o o x o o o o x o x o o
Participant Schengen AFSJ CFR Euro EEA ESM EFC SRM Euro+ CSDP Prüm Patent Divorce Symbols

 x  – member
 c  – conditions to be fulfilled before joining or candidate
 o  – non-member

Pol. : politics — Soc. : society — Eco. : economy

Participation of European countries in non UE-only integration initiatives

For integration activities not initiated by the EU see European integration

A number of countries have special relations to the European Union implementing most of its regulations. Prominently there are Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein which are the only remaining EFTA members while all other former EFTA members have converted into EU members. Through agreements Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein (not including Switzerland) are members of the European Economic Area since 1994. As a consequence of taking part in the EU single market they need to adopt part of the Law of the European Union. Formally they would not need to fund the EU government but in practice they have opted to take on their part of financing EU institutions as required by EU law (see EEA and Norway Grants) with the financial footprint of Norway being equal to that of an EU member since 2009. Especially Norway and Iceland are known to forfeit EU membership on the basis of EU fishery regulations that they want to opt out on. Both Norway and Iceland have signed and implemented the Schengen zone agreements. During the turmoils of the financial crisis Iceland was looking into membership of the Eurozone and it did formally apply to EU membership in 2009. Norway has joined all EU political treaties and it has applied to EU membership multiple times but while fulfilling the requirements the government was vetoed by public vote in their own country in 1972 and 1994. This leaves Norway to be integrated into Inner Europe's institutions while not being part their governing body.

Participant Schengen Euro CU EEA Energy Community ECT ECAA EEAgency EMCDDA EMSA EASA ERA EDA ESA NATO
Albania Albania xxx x
Andorra Andorra sx
Armenia Armenia
Austria Austriaxxxxxxxxxxxxx x
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan
Belarus Belarus
Belgium Belgiumxxxxxxxxxxxxx x x
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina x[10] xxx
Bulgaria Bulgariaccxxxxxxxxxxx x
Croatia Croatiaccxcxxxxxxxxx x
Cyprus Cypruscxxxxxxxxxxxx
Czech Republic Czech Republicxcxxxxxxxxxxx x x
Denmark Denmarkx xxxxxxxxxx x x
Estonia Estoniaxxxxxxxxxxxxx x x
Finland Finlandxxxxxxxxxxxxx x
France Francexxxxxxxxxxxxx x x
Georgia (country) Georgia x s
Germany Germanyxxxxxxxxxxxxx x x
Greece Greecexxxxxxxxxxxxx x x
Hungary Hungaryxcxxxxxxxxxxx x x
Iceland Iceland x xxxxxxxx x
Republic of Ireland Ireland xxxxxxxxxxxx x
Italy Italyxxxxxxxxxxxxx x x
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan
Kosovo Kosovo x[10] xxx
Latvia Latviaxxxxxxxxxxxxx x
Liechtenstein Liechtenstein x x xxx x
Lithuania Lithuaniaxxxxxxxxxxxxx x
Luxembourg Luxembourgxxxxxxxxxxxxx x x
Republic of Macedonia Macedonia xxx
Malta Maltaxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Moldova Moldova xxs
Monaco Monaco ssx s
Montenegro Montenegro xxx
Netherlands Netherlandsxxxxxxxxxxxxx x x
Norway Norwayx x xxxxx x x
Poland Polandxxxxxxxxxxxxx x x
Portugal Portugalxxxxxxxxxxxxx x x
Romania Romaniaccxxxxxxxxxxx x x
Russia Russia
San Marino San Marino sx s
Serbia Serbia xxx
Slovakia Slovakiaxxxxxxxxxxxxx x
Slovenia Sloveniaxxxxxxxxxxxxx x
Spain Spainxxxxxxxxxxxxx x x
Sweden Swedenxcxxxxxxxxxxx x
Switzerland Switzerland x xx xx x
Turkey Turkey x xx x x
Ukraine Ukraine xx
United Kingdom United Kingdom xxxxxxxxxxx x x
Vatican City Vatican City s
Participant Schengen Euro CU EEA Energy Community ECT ECAA EEAgency EMCDDA EMSA EASA ERA EDA ESA
Multispeed European Union 2013:
EU countries integrated in all areas (blue)
EU countries with exceptions (green)
and non-EU countries integrated in the
Single Market and Schengen (green-yellow)

     – member of the E.U.
     – official candidate to join the E.U.
     – recognised potential candidate to join the E.U. x – member
c – conditions to be fulfilled before joining
s – unilateral adoption/participation through another state who is a member/some instruments signed, but not yet ratified

See also


  1. Marcin Zaborowski: Germany and EU Enlargement: From Rapprochement to "Reaproachment"? In: Helene Sjursen (Ed.), Enlargement in perspective, p. 46.
  2. Karl Lamers / Wolfgang Schäuble: Überlegungen zur europäischen Politik (Reflections on European Policy). See also Gilles Andréani: What future for federalism?, Centre for European Reform Essays, September 2002, ISBN 1-901229-33-5, p. 7-8.
  3. Michael Mertes / Norbert J. Prill: Der verhängnisvolle Irrtum eines Entweder-Oder. Eine Vision für Europa, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 19 July 1989.
  4. Michael Mertes / Norbert J. Prill: Es wächst zusammen, was zusammengehören will. “Maastricht Zwei” muss die Europäische Union flexibel machen, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 9 December 1994, p. 11.
  5. Countries press ahead with limited single EU patent plan
  6. Parliament of the United Kingdom (12 March 1998). "Volume: 587, Part: 120 (12 Mar 1998: Column 391, Baroness Williams of Crosby)". House of Lords Hansard. Retrieved 2007-10-13.
  7. The Economist: 'Coalitions for the willing'.
  8. In addition to the permanent deviations there are temporary transition periods for the application of certain EU law provisions in some member states, but these have an already set dates for lapsing.
  9. Signed but not in force.
  10. 1 2 De facto uses the euro.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/3/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.