Deepening versus Widening the EU: Where to go?

Please cite the paper as:
Rieff Joé, (2017), Deepening versus Widening the EU: Where to go?, World Economics Association (WEA) Conferences, No. 1 2017, Public Law and Economics, 1st June to 30th June, 2017

Abstract

In recent years, the fears of European disintegration have risen. After Brexit, different propositions have been made by the European Commission of how to shape the future of the EU. In brief, the EU could proceed as before, or continue with a more differentiated integration. The following paper aims at scrutinizing the latter possibility and potentials for even further enlargement, focusing on purely economic effects. It will draw on theories of fiscal federalism to identify costs and benefits of differentiated integration.

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5 Comments ↓

5 comment

  • Maria Campos says:

    Dear Joe,

    First of all, very insightful paper :) Let me share a couple of quick ideas that crossed my mind while reading your paper:
    – First of all, your title and text mention the “deepening and widening” of the EU. At times, this was used to refer to the enlargement of the union, other times as integration. As far as I understood also from your paper, there is a relationship between both (number of countries and integration), but perhaps you could make explicit from the beginning that by referring to this terms (deepening and widening), you have an mind two different things.
    – It would also be nice to tell your reader a bit more on the three different scenarios presented in the White paper you mention.
    – Finally, you end with a positive note on differentiated integration, claiming it might be a way forward from an economic perspective. Still on an economic level, could it be that such a differentiated integration ends up being self-defeating, by leading to further fragmentation and barriers in the internal market?

    Best,
    MC

  • Joé Rieff says:

    Dear Maria, thanks for the comments.

    “First of all, your title and text mention the “deepening and widening” of the EU. At times, this was used to refer to the enlargement of the union, other times as integration. As far as I understood also from your paper, there is a relationship between both (number of countries and integration), but perhaps you could make explicit from the beginning that by referring to this terms (deepening and widening), you have an mind two different things.”

    –> I will make this more clear. I have overlooked this, while writing

    “It would also be nice to tell your reader a bit more on the three different scenarios presented in the White paper you mention.”

    –> Definitely, I am working on this already, also on integrating some more related concepts

    “Finally, you end with a positive note on differentiated integration, claiming it might be a way forward from an economic perspective. Still on an economic level, could it be that such a differentiated integration ends up being self-defeating, by leading to further fragmentation and barriers in the internal market?”

    –> Good Point, I will look into the economic effects of further fragmentation. I did some further research, which shows that differentiated integration leads to a complex web of institutions. This in turn makes it difficult to for the voters to follow the processes of integration, who then might perceive that on aggregate, EU integration is contrary to their preferences and benefits. Differentiated integration might therefore contribute to a lack of political accountability and thus, from a pol. economic view be unstable.

    Thank you very much for your feedback

  • Gemelee Hirang says:

    Dear Joe,

    I enjoyed reading your paper, as it’s a very timely and important subject. I just have some thoughts. “The main goal of the EU is peace and stability and ‘economic integration is a means and not an end'”. Would the hesitation about further widening of the EU be related to political and security issues concerning the potential members? Or maybe there are some doubts on the credibility of the potential members with respect to compliance with both economic and political obligations?

    Best,
    Gem

  • Mahmud Mansaray says:

    Dear Joe, thank you very much for a well-researched article. Certainly, your article on the deepening versus the widening in the EU clearly exposed a fault line in the EU integration between the initial alliance members (France, Germany, Italy, etc.) and the recently admitted members (Poland, Romania, etc.) whose economies are not as well developed, thus creating distrust and economic disagreements among member states. Given this, I strongly support the deepening of the EU instead of a continued widening, because of the likelihood of a disagreement on priorities. This is consistent with your argument that, the adding of new associates resulted in a state of impasse, wherein do reachable resolutions were easily conclusive because of the huge multiplicity of penchants. In addition, the widening of the EU has led to economic migration from countries (e.g. Poland) with minimal economic opportunities, to countries (e.g. Germany, France, etc.) with more economic opportunities. The economy and immigration crises in the EU may have triggered the BREXIT episode in Britain. If anything, the way forward for EU should be deepening, to avoid a BREXIT-like episode in the future. In total, this was an excellent essay.

    • Joé Rieff says:

      Dear Mahmud,

      thank you for your kind comments. I share your view on the benefits of deepening the integration. However, I hope I was or at least will be able to show and discuss in a revised version of the paper, some heterogeneity within the Union can also be beneficial, in order to avoid inefficient integration. Therefore a differentiated path might be desirable.