Behind the Scenes of Differentiated Integration: Circumventing National Opt-Outs in Justice and Home Affairs

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This article examines the formal and informal practices of two champions of opting out, the United Kingdom and Denmark, in the area of Justice and Home Affairs. On the surface, both countries have chosen to avoid further integration within this policy area to safeguard national autonomy. Foreign policy experts have argued that national reservations lead to the loss of influence and possibly second-class membership, and legal scholars describe substantial opt-outs as a 'hijacking' of the acquis communautaire. This article demonstrates that opting out does not necessarily imply that member states are out in the cold. Both the UK and Denmark, it is argued, have influence and adapt to new EU legislation, even in politically sensitive areas covered by their protocols. National opt-outs are pragmatically circumvented in the consensus-oriented Council of Ministers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)62-80
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2009

ID: 9204860