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Differentiated Membership and Core-Periphery Divide in the EU: Negative-regressive Divergence in the New Member States

Attila Ágh

The huge and impressive international literature on differentiated integration (DI) has not concentrated on the increasing Core-Periphery Divide and the special DI case of the NMS has been completely marginalized, thus the particular character of DI in the NMS has remained under-researched. The main problem is that the differentiated integration (DI) has been considered from the very beginning only as a vehicle of dealing with the "neutral" heterogeneity in the EU in the "policy" dimension (in the "socio-economic" processes), not discussing enough even its "political" dimension (transnational decision-making process) and not taking into account at all its "polity" dimension (the democratic system of institutions as the embodiment of the European values).Supposedly, DI would be just aiming at facilitating the socio-economic development ("catching up process") by other policy means. Thus, the whole DI debate has been restricted to the "technical" side by neglecting the "polity" side, and it has remained evident that the DI would not hurt the European values as the structure of the democratic European polity, although even before the global crisis it was a fatal mistake of not distinguishing between the positive and the negative "polity DI", and/or between the progressive and regressive "policy DI". Altogether, from among the three dimensions of DI, the "policy" dimension has been very well analysed and the "politics" (decision-making) dimension has also been studied, but the "polity" (the EU basic values as the democratic system) dimension has been largely neglected, although that has been crucial for the EU developments both in the South and the East.

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