The existence of a Multi-Speed Europe is a reality. The concept relates to the pace of integration – or lack thereof – of Member States into different structures of Union. The dissimilarity of integrative speed is intrinsically linked to the different resources, goals and socio-economic backgrounds of each Member State.
Author: Matei Stefan, Research Assistant at ELF
The uniqueness of the EU rests in its diversity: of languages, of culture, of history, ideologies and socio-economic development. We should stop fighting this diversity and instead start accepting it. We should deal with it without jeopardizing our core principles, rules and ideas. A mature EU should not leave behind nor ignore Member States who struggle to keep the pace of development and integration. It is the duty of fast-tracked countries to bring in those countries who are on the fringes, but in a gentle and not a forceful manner.This two-speed dynamic is not a bad thing per se. If we leave behind unproductive debates on the reality of a multi-speed Europe, and start accepting its de facto existence, we could shift our focus towards helping Member States to keep up and thus maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of various areas of the EU.Both in older policy areas such as Security and Justice, Eurozone, and Schengen, and newer ones such as PESCO, Frontex or the Banking Union, Member States have shown involvement at varying speeds, with some Member States pioneering while others lag behind or opt out of further integration. From here some questions arise: is the different pace of integration and adoption detrimental to the lagging Member States, and to the EU as a whole? Through which mechanisms and tools can we help Member States move faster?Bringing together a panel of experts, ELF’s ‘Multi-Speed Europe’ roundtables advanced some answers to these questions. Whilst not definitive, the discussions were greatly thought-provoking. The insights of the speakers aimed at determining the driving factors and motivations behind the lack of common integration speed, and also to recommend tools that might enable better integration.Even though the discussion offered a holistic view on the multi-speed theme, the focus was pointed at several specific areas: the Eurozone, Schengen area, the Banking Union, PESCO and future enlargement- realms that symbolize the development and integration of the EU. To maximize the benefits linked to the desired functioning of these areas, all Member States need to get in sync and have an alignment of approaches and wanted outcomes.