Determinants and Dynamics of Differentiated Integration in Post-Brexit Europe


Determinants and Dynamics of Differentiated Integration in Post-Brexit Europe

Financed by:                       National Research Center (contract no. 2020/37/B/HS5/00230)

Principal investigator:      dr hab. Rafał Riedel, prof. UO

Duration:                            2021-2024

Amount:                              458 700 PLN


The overarching research objective of the presented project aims at analyzing the determinants and dynamics of differentiated integration in Europe from the interdisciplinary point of view. The existing theories of international integration are fragmented and trapped into the disciplinary camps without much dialog between and among them. The starting assumption is captured in the hypothetical statement that the level and scope of differentiation will differ from country to country in various policy areas in line with the time factor as well as a will be determined by a group of factors of socio-political, economic and institutional nature. Against this background, this study derives a number of hypotheses addressing the inter-disciplinary nature of the differentiation in Europe (e.g. “Differentiation increases in polities with proportional more Euro-skeptic citizenry than Euro-friendly population”, “More intra- EU trade (of goods and services) as well as capital and migration flows will result in more pro- integrative attitudes and less differentiation, whereas the less intense economic traffic within the block will result in more differentiation” or “Policy areas with higher integration-related costs will represent greater differentiation, whereas less differentiation will occur in sectors where less costs and risks are anticipated”).

The research methodology of the proposed project is going to be subordinated to the aimed objectives, questions and hypotheses. The methods used will derive from the scholarly tradition present in similar studies. At the same time it will be strongly integrated with the theoretical approaches to be applied. The integrity of the research methodology with the stated goals, specific research questions, related hypothesis (and their theoretical underpinnings) as well as ways of verifying them will be carefully taken into account throughout the research process. The research process is going to incorporate a diversity of methods, including a thorough combination of qualitative and quantitative ones. The majority of the analyzed determinants are operationalized in the form of parameterized variables that allow for a multi-factor analysis measuring the strength and importance of the determinants in question (descriptive statistics – linear regression). This is complimented with the qualitative analysis (in-depth semi-structured interviews and framing analysis) which enriches the quantitative results and provides a clear picture of the dynamic phenomenon of differentiated integration in Europe.

The research project aims to contribute to the state of research on differentiated integration in Europe, as well as to integrate various perspectives (economic, political, social) on it while explaining the dynamics and determinants of the growing differentiation in Europe. This multi-factor analysis will address a number of important questions, like: What drives and determines the differentiation inside the EU and on its peripheries? What is the dynamics of this differentiation? How has it evolved so far? What is its current trajectory? Where is it heading? How (and why) do the various countries, EU member states and non-members, integrate differently? How does the differentiation change in relation to the field of integration? Is time (in a larger or shorter horizon) an explanatory variable and how does it matter? What are the old and new forms and types of differentiation? Has the differentiation reached a point in which it carries the potential for disintegration? What does it mean for the supra-national institutional architecture? What is the specific EU member states strategy in relation to the growing differentiation?

Answering these questions will contribute to the enhancement of scientific inquiry in a field that is proportionally underdeveloped and at the same time represents critical importance. Never before has the differentiated integration in Europe gained so much attention due to its saliency and dynamism. The new evolving situation (new system of differentiation) requires intense scientific investigation that will enhance our knowledge about its determinants and dynamics. By integrating interdisciplinary approach the proposed research project not only responds to the nature of the problem, it also answers the deficit observed in various streams of EU studies, that is the lack of communication, exchange of ideas and dialog between and among disciplines both on theoretical and empirical level.

Analysing Cross-border Co-operation in Visegrád Group countries (V4)


Analysing Cross-border Co-operation in Visegrád Group countries (V4)

Financed by:                       National Research Center (contract no. 2020/37/B/HS5/02445)

Research team:                 dr Hynek Böhm (Principal investigator), dr Ágnes Erőss (Post-doc), dr Wojciech Opioła (Co-investigator)

Duration:                            2021-2023

Amount:                              517 200 PLN


The EU’s territory is up to its 40% made by border regions. About 30% of the EU population lives in areas along the 40 land borders between the EU and EFTA Member States. Generally, we can say that these areas tend to be economically weaker, and have more underdeveloped infrastructure in comparison to more central regions (Jańczak 2014). Despite the European integration process has achieved considerable results and has assisted in removing many cooperation barriers, many obstacles based on differing legal and administrative background have remained. This is where the cross-border cooperation (CBC) has its place. Since 1990, the EU’s Cohesion Policy has supported cross-border cooperation with the Interreg initiative, with a total of €30 billion. Free border crossing and developed cross-border co-operation became one of the principle EU narratives (Scott 2019). Multi-level governance, EU regional cohesion policies, the Europe of Regions discourse and an increase of para-diplomatic activities of sub-nation state authorities supported a consensus on rescaling Europe with an increasing influence of regional and local actors from a cross-border perspective (Klatt 2019, Keating 1998; Scott 1999; Telo 2007; Warleigh-Lack and Rosamond 2011, Hooghe and Marks 1993). At the moment it seems that the development to more open, prosperous border regions is challenged by the COVID-19 outbreak. The epidemic danger caused the closure of almost all Schengen space and imposed physical barriers on the EU internal borders. This made CBC physically impossible or at least very difficult to implement. However, the current pandemics was preceded by other crisis, which contributed to the growing Euroscepticism and rebordering. The migration crisis of 2015 led to the rising Euroscepticism and had also its consequences for borders. Both hard re-bordering in forms of temporary closed check points and soft re-bordering in the context of rising identitarian/localistic political movements challenges border transgressing activities (Klatt 2019).

The research has an ambition to focus on the way, how did the CBC change the borderlands in Visegrád countries since the 2004 EU enlargement until 2020. We will examine the processes of frontierization ongoing since 2004 until now. We will also look whether there are also boundarization/re-bordering processes going in the vice-versa direction. The main research question is: “Do the borders in V4 countries experience re-bordering?” If the answer is positive we will try to assess whether this re-bordering affects border regions as the places, where the people live. We will address this main goal with the help of following research questions: 1. How did cross-border cooperation influence borderlands in V4 countries? Did the space construction through European and national narratives affect border regions as living spaces? How have the above mentioned developments influenced cross-border social practices? 2. Are the structural conditions (governance structures, border regimes, cross-border infrastructure, cross-border policies) appropriate to ensure a positive social and economic development of V4 border regions as living spaces? Who are the decisive CBC actors there? What influence the pandemics had? 3. How did the various financial incentives – mainly the EU funded INTERREG programmes – contribute towards the change of borderlands in the V4? 4. Are the schools located in borderlands affected with the CBC? Do their curricula reflect this special geographical position and do the schools raise the new borderlanders, or the national Leitkultur prevails also there? The research will be organised in four thematic working packages, moreover the horizontal factors influencing the CBC in V4 countries shall be considered: -national minorities -major population re-settlements – divided towns – different national (historical) narratives – COVID-19 pandemics.

Non-competitive elections to communal councils as a specificity of local democracy in Poland


Non-competitive elections to communal councils as a specificity of local democracy in Poland





  • Border and Regional Studies under the framework of CEEPUS
  • Borders, Human-to-Military Security Database under the framework of Jean Monnet Network (European Commission)
  • Forthem Alliance under the framework of European Universities Initiative (European Commission) 
  • Border and Regional Studies
  • Critical Studies/Studia Krytyczne
  • ETE Working Papers
    In preparation:

New Challenges for Borderlands Studies: Regional, European and Global Perspectives Opole, September 8-10 2021

Organizer: Department of Regional Studies

Conference chair: Wojciech Opioła

More info