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Maximizing the integration capacity of the European Union: Lessons and prospects for enlargement and beyond (MAXCAP, 2013-2016)



MAXCAP Teamfoto

MAXCAP Teamfoto


 The ‘big bang enlargement’ of the European Union (EU) has nurtured vivid debates among both academics and practitioners about the consequences of ‘an ever larger Union’ for the EU’s integration capacity. The research project MAXCAP started with a critical analysis of the effects of the 2004 - 2007 enlargement on stability, democracy and prosperity of candidate countries, on the one hand, and the EU’s institutions, on the other. We then investigated how the EU can maximize its integration capacity for current and future enlargements.  Adopting an inter-disciplinary and mixed methods approach that combines desk research, in-depth interviews and Q-methodology, MAXCAP:

a) explained the effects of the EU’s integration modes and strategies on democracy and socio-economic development in the new members, candidates and neighbourhood countries;
b) inquired into the relationship between the widening and deepening of the EU by establishing conditions for effective decision-making and implementation in an enlarged EU;
c) identified the social limits to the EU’s integration capacity related to citizens’ perceptions of the last and future enlargements;
d) studied the EU’s current and past negotiation strategies in the context of enlargement and investigate to what extent they need to be adjusted to changing conditions in the EU and the candidate countries;
e) examined how the EU employs different modes of integrating countries with highly diverse economic powers, democratic qualities of governance, and institutional capacities and
f) assessed whether alternative models, such as the European Neighbourhood Policy, can be successful in bringing countries closer to the EU.

MAXCAP which features a nine-partner consortium of academic, policy, dissemination and management excellence aimed to create new and strengthen existing links within and between the academic and the policy world on matters relating to the current and future enlargement of the EU.

MAXCAP partners:

Partner 1 - Freie Universität Berlin, team leader: Prof. Tanja A. Börzel  (coordinator)

Partner 2 - Leiden University, team leader: Dr. Antoaneta Dimitrova (co-coordinator)

Partner 3 - London School of Economics and Political Science, team leader: Dr. Ulrich Sedelmeier

Partner 4 - Eidgenössische Hochschule Zürich, team leader: Prof. Frank Schimmelfennig

Partner 5 - Sabanci University, team leader: Prof. Meltem Müftuler-Bac

Partner 6 - European University Institute , team leader: Prof. László Bruszt

Partner 7 - Balkan Civil Society Development Network, team leader: Tanja Hafner-Ademi

Partner 8 - Central European University, team leader: Dr. Dorothee Bohle

Partner 9 - Sofia University, team leader: Prof. Georgi Dimitrov