Towards a Proper Explanation of European Disintegration

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


An explanation of European disintegration should account for the EU’s multi-dimensional nature and the continuous presence of disintegrative and integrative forces it is subject to. Avoiding a static checklist of factors, mechanisms help to grasp the dynamic processes of (dis)integration. The mechanism of exit, voice, and loyalty explains actors’ partial or full withdrawal from the EU. The mutual dependence between external consolidation and internal construction (the bounding-bonding mechanism) explains (dis)integration at the systemic level. Four propositions spell out how European (dis)integration might evolve: (1) integration may start and continue due to the lack of better alternatives and limited voice options; (2) the EU’s weak external consolidation (enlargement) has constrained its internal construction; (3) the external de-consolidation of member states has increased dissatisfaction; and (4) with loyalty low, voice opportunities limited, and better external exit options available, actors will seek full withdrawal from the EU. In the absence of better external alternatives, dissatisfied actors will opt for partial exits.


European disintegration Exit, voice and loyalty Bounding-bonding mechanism Bartolini Hirschman Rokkan 


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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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