IATE Term of the week: variable-geometry Europe





MEPs discussed earlier this month in Strasbourg the challenges posed by multi-tier integration, and how to tackle them. However, what exactly is meant by ‘multi-tier integration’? Known by various terms including: ‘variable-geometry Europe’ ‘Europe à la carte’, ‘multi-speed Europe’, these phrases all refer to the differing levels of European integration:

The end result of this discussion, was that the European Parliament opposed ‘variable-geometry Europe’. On the 17th of January, European Parliament voted in plenary on a resolution on variable-geometry Europe, wanting to maintain the level of differentiation that already exists in the EU.


MEPs encouraged flexibility to drive integration forward, but still highlighted that ‘differentiated integration’ should be used as a ‘second-best option’

The outcome of this resolution has been a potential revision of the level of differentiation in a future treaty. In a statement released by the European Parliament on 17th January, they have stated this would mean that:

  • Members would need to fully comply with primary EU law in all policy areas
  • There would be an end to member states deciding to opt out of EU law on a permanent basis
  • Countries who do not want to fully comply with EU primary law could have ‘some sort of partnership’ with the EU available to them.








Written by Mairead Finlay – Communication Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg). She has studied Translation at the University of Geneva and holds a BA in Politics and French from the University of Bristol.