Federalism and European Disintegration

  • Hans Vollaard
Part of the Palgrave Studies in European Union Politics book series (PSEUP)


Comparative federalism can shed light on the disintegration of the EU, a federal system characterised by a combination of shared rule and self-rule. Comparative federalist studies focus on the sustainability and failure of an entire federal system and on the secession of individual member states. The maintenance and failure of federal systems have been contributed to a wide range of factors, ranging from the presence of an external security threat and shared economic interests, to cultural commonalities and an ideological commitment to the federal division of power. However, it is not clear what the relative importance of these factors is and how they are interconnected in the dynamic process of disintegration. At present, they constitute no more than a checklist, indicating the likelihood of European disintegration. Similar criticism also holds for explanations of secession by individual states. These explanations also suffer from a state bias. In spite of this, comparative federalism does offer some useful building blocks in the pursuit of a convincing explanation of European disintegration.


European disintegration Comparative federalism Federal failure Secession 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans Vollaard
    • 1
  1. 1.Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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