Profile of the project

The project examines the phenomenon of differentiated integration (DI) in the European Union and its impact on German-Polish relations. Differentiated integration is understood as a process in which not all EU member states are willing or able to participate in certain policy areas. Since Germany and Poland are the largest fully or partially integrated EU member states after Brexit (especially with regard to the European Monetary Union), the consequences of differentiated integration will be analysed on the basis of German-Polish relations.

The aim is to reconstruct national and party preferences and images of Europe regarding the finalité of European integration, i.e. the EU’s deepening and differentiation. For this purpose, ideal types are designed which are compared with the finalité conceptions of all political parties represented in the German Bundestag and the Polish Sejm. A qualitative content analysis of plenary debates from June 2016 to January 2020 as well as expert interviews with national and EU parliamentarians of the respective parties form the empirical basis. The identification of the respective interests and integration ideas enables conclusions to be drawn about possible compromises and potential conflicts in the negotiations on the future constitutional structure of the EU.   

Differentiation holds opportunities and challenges for European integration. Therefore, competing models of differentiated integration will be examined for their legitimacy resources and deficits. From this, we derive policy recommendations on how the rights and obligations between EU member states in differentiated policy fields should be better distributed in the future. Finally, we identify the implications for German-Polish relations. 

In a scenario workshop, experts of German-Polish relations conceive of alternative developments of bilateral relations in the context of EU differentiated integration. For this purpose, assumptions about the future are tested (presumption test), influencing factors are identified (consistency analysis) and development paths are developed and refined (TELL-IT analysis). On this basis, four "futures" are created, from which we derive policy recommendations for future German-Polish relations.

Project output

Within the the project "Germany and Poland in a Differentiated European Union" various events and publications are in preparation. Informations be found here.

  • May 2022: Online panel discussion "Harmonious disparity? Consequences of a differentiated EU for German-Polish relations" (University of Leipzig).
  • November 2022: Conference "United in diversity? Legitimation resources and deficits of the European Union" (University of Warsaw, in cooperation with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation)
  • May 2023: Scenario Workshop "United in diversity or driven apart? Germany and Poland in the European Union" (University of Warsaw, in cooperation with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation)
  • September 2023: Summer School "Differentiated integration in the European Union. The standard modus operandi in Brussels?" (University of Leipzig)

The list of publications will be completed in the course of the research project.

Team of the University of Leipzig

Prof. Dr. Ireneusz Pawel Karolewski

Prof. Dr. Ireneusz Pawel Karolewski


Political Theory and Democracy Research
Geisteswissenschaftliches Zentrum
Beethovenstraße 15, Room H3 0.11
04107 Leipzig

Phone: +49 341 97-35614
Fax: +49 341 97-35696

Office hours
Dienstag 15:00 – 17:00 Uhr nach vorheriger Vereinbarung

Team of the University of Warsaw

Lawyer, professor of social sciences, lecturer in EU law at the University of Warsaw in the European Law Department of the Faculty of Law and Administration, previously also at the University of Wrocław. He is specialised on EU institutional and single market law, as well as international and constitutional law. Chair of the Committee on Legal Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences (2020-2023), Chair of the Scientific Council of the Department of Law of the University of Warsaw (2021-2024), member of the Programme Council of the Osiatyński Archives and the Programme Council of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights' Precedents Programme, expert of Team Europe.

Further information at:​​​​​​​

Fourth-year History and Law student at the College of Interdisciplinary Individual Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Warsaw (MISH UW).

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