Resolution submitted by: JEF Political Commission 1 – Institutions and Governance
Adopted by the Federal Committee in Turku on 21 October 2018. Re-adopted by the online Federal Committee on 26 June 2021. Re-adopted and amended by the Federal Committee on 11 November 2023 in Madrid Spain. 

  • Considering that differentiated integration has been part of the European project since the beginning and its application has since gained more importance with the Maastricht treaty and Amsterdam treaty;
  • Recalling how differentiated integration, in the past, has enabled issues to be resolved that were preventing the creation of a closer union, namely in the case of irreconcilable views of the member states on the objectives of integration and on the issue of enlargement;
  • Further recalling the wide range of forms of integration present today within and outside the EU and that the European Union is not the only framework of cooperation at the European level;
  • Taking into account that we are living in a moment of uncertainty for the future of Europe and therefore differentiated integration within the European Union is a real political possibility;
  • Recognising the need for more forms of differentiated integration in order to strengthen integration as a whole within and outside the EU;
  • Acknowledging the current debate surrounding the necessity of a Multi-Speed European integration and ideas to structure European Integration around four circles as a last resort if other types of institutional reforms that include all member states fail to overcome the current deadlock in favour of deeper European integration;
  • Further taking into consideration that the member states have shown the most severe divergences on their political long-term visions and not just on a socio-economic level;
  • Welcoming the steps made so far with European Public Prosecutor Office (EPPO) and Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) on pooling sovereignty on the matter of internal and external security, while recognising that they are not sufficient;
  • Reiterating the necessity of overcoming the traditional multi-speed approach that acknowledges only one possibility of integration, meaning pursuing the same objectives on a different speed which takes into account only differences between member states of a social and economic nature, in favour of a new multi-tier approach that takes into account the political and ideological divisions among member states as well as candidate and potential candidate states, while trying to solve them and preventing them from impeding further integration;
  • Keeping in mind the necessity of rethinking the idea of a multi-speed Europe especially in a non-limited way;

Taking note of the biannual meetings of the European Political Community (EPC) as a useful forum for all European countries, whether in the EU or not, to exchange on issues of mutual interest, while also reminding that this forum should not be considered as a permanent waiting room for candidates to EU enlargement;

  • Convinced that the demand for more flexible ways of integration will grow as new countries join the European Union and it could become a less problematic way of integration for the newly admitted countries;
  • Considering that joining the European Union should imply for candidate countries the willingness to politically integrate and to participate in a federal project.
  • Aware of the fact that the EU practices extended governance vis-à-vis neighbouring countries, as it remains their most important trade partner and provider of support for political and economic stability, and that EU membership has been and will continue to be a primary factor of geopolitical stability;
  • Confident about the use of the flexibility tools as laid out in the treaties
  • Reaffirming the indivisibility of the Four Freedoms as stated in the treaties;
  • Deeply convinced of the irreversibility and the primacy of the model of the acquis communautaire to set the example for any future form of cooperation or union;
  • Bearing in mind the risk that encouraging the use of flexible ways of integration within the EU, if it is not supported by a concrete political vision, could lead to the stagnation or a progressive crumbling of the European project;
  • Reaffirming that the euro is the single currency of the European Union and that in the long run, all Member States have to join the Eurozone.

JEF Europe therefore,

  1. Strongly reaffirms the principle of European solidarity and the idea of Europe as a joint and on-going political project;
  2. Encourages all forms of enhanced cooperation in those particularly problematic political sectors that have traditionally been exempted by the European integration process;
  3. Reaffirms that any form of differentiated integration should aim to maintain and strengthen sovereignty on a European and local level.
  4. Calls for any attempt of having different “circles of integration” within the EU to be supported by a clear and concrete political vision for the EU, that foresees the creation of a political institution based on federal aspects;
  5. Urges the creation of a core nucleus of member states from different parts of the Union that agree on permanent political integration and that functions as a magnet for other countries, as the only way to a multi-tier Europe that will not cause further fragmentation and divisions within the European Union;
  6. Urges Eurozone countries to agree on permanent political integration and to function as a magnet for other countries, as the way to a multi-tier Europe that will not cause further fragmentation and divisions within the European Union;
  7. Believes furthermore that through forms of enhanced cooperation the EU will increasingly adopt federal tools in specific political areas and will act according to federal principles as the first step to becoming a federal supranational entity;
  8. Reminds that any form of new cooperation should be based on a fully democratic and clearly understandable decision-making process, to keep the citizen on board;
  9. Demands that any sort of new cooperation to be of an inclusive nature of enlargement, without allocating a secondary status for the outer tier, and that all candidate countries can become part of it, if they wish, providing that they meet the relevant criteria;

XX. Supports the Treaty reform proposal approved by AFCO Committe of the European Parliament on the 25th of October 2023 as a pivotal opportunity to do concrete steps towards the European Federation;

Therefore, in line with the principles stated above:

10. Calls for the different levels of integration within the EU to be structured as such:

a. The “inner core”:

  • A first level of integration composed by countries that are willing to seek close political integration and that aim at the construction of a federal union. This first level of integration must coincide with the Eurozone and Schengen, as this represents currently the deepest level of integration within the EU.
  • In order for this level to become the core of a new federal structure of the EU, the economic and monetary union must be completed by having fiscal capacity and a separate budget, as well as all members joining the banking union and ERM II (Exchange Rate Mechanism). A common defence and foreign policy, a common asylum policy, as well as coordination in the matter of internal security must be established among the members of the Eurozone. Decision-making in the council should move to qualified majority voting(QMV).
  • Eventually, all Member States will have to give a mandate to a Constituent Assembly to draft a European federal constitution in order to regulate the relations among them and ensure democratic legitimacy; this should be the first step to open the path towards the European federation.

b. The current EU as a Union of Member States:

  • A second level of integration of all member states that are not in the Eurozone, and that do not want to pursue political integration. The countries in the second level would participate in the single market, including the Capital Markets Union, and the customs union, including all the policies related to them such as consumer protection and competition policy, trade policy, and so on.
  • Crucially, these Members would still have to abide and respect the Rule of Law in Europe and the values set out in Art. 2 TEU. In the long run, those member states have to join the Eurozone. All member states would have to seek cooperation on foreign and defence policy as well as on matters of internal security.
  • All the member states would be in the Schengen area, providing that no member state applies any sort of limitation to Schengen. The jurisdiction of CJEU applies to both levels equally. Furthermore it is fundamental that the member states of both levels of integration commit fully to European values and that rule of law and democratic principles are respected.

c. “Associated Members”:

  • A third level of integration of all those countries that do not wish or cannot join the EU currently but would participate in the single market and/or customs union as fully as possible, including those whose level of economic and institutional development might put membership on hold. These countries, while seeking full economic relations, would accept the rules and regulations of the single market completely and as they change in the future, and the jurisdiction of the ECJ (European Court of Justice).
  • Cooperation with these countries should aim at harmonised standards on competition, environment,social protection,consumer affairs, human rights and rule of law. Some of these countries might also be involved, through some form of observer or associate status, in the EU in foreign and defence policies. This level would include the current European Economic Area (EEA), EU-Switzerland bilateral relations, Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTA), and all trade agreement and association agreements with countries in Europe, as well as providing a framework for the future relations between the European Union and countries such as candidate countries until their accession, Switzerland or the United Kingdom.

d. “outer circle:

  • The last level of integration would include countries that are not members of the EU and that do not wish to be but want to keep a free trade agreement with the EU. These countries would have close economic relations with some multilateral elements but without any participation in the political project whatsoever, while accepting the rules and regulations of the single market entirely.
  • This last level of integration would include the most comprehensive trade agreements and association agreements of the EU. However, all the future deals negotiated by the EU should:

b. 1. Aim at being comprehensive, and maintaining all standards and regulations the same as the EU,

b. 2. Seek harmonised standards on competition, environment and social protection and consumer affairs,

b. 3. Respect democratic legitimacy and be kept under parliamentary scrutiny, rule of law and high standards of human rights protection.

11. Encourages the application of the acquis communautaire by non-members outside the EU institutional framework;

12. Further calls upon the European Union to extend and continue the model of association agreement that includes deep and comprehensive free trade particularly in those countries in which rule of law and democracy is respected;

13. Trusts that the application of differentiated integration will open the path to the facilitation of a future enlargement by offering flexibility in adopting EU norms and creating new ways for neighbouring countries;

14. Further stresses that any form of cooperation within and outside the EU ensures the application of EU law, respects the principles of fair competition and the principle of non-discrimination of citizens of the EU.