Leaders and Followers: Leadership Amongst Member States in a Differentiated Europe

Vincent Della Sala

in The Oxford Handbook of the European Union

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199546282
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

Leaders and Followers: Leadership Amongst Member States in a Differentiated Europe

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  • Politics
  • European Union
  • Comparative Politics



This article demonstrates how the emergence of a differentiated Europe raised the spectre of a Europe of leaders and followers, centred around the possibility that a core group of states would race ahead, pulling the rest behind so as not to risk being marginalized. The first section explores how the various forms of differentiation – multi-speed, variable geometry, or à la carte Europe – have different consequences for the question of leadership, and examines the extent to which it is possible to speak of leaders and followers within the EU. Drawing from arguments about ‘heroic’ and ‘humdrum’ leadership and those dealing with policy leaders and laggards, it is shown that the EU combines different types of leaders and followers for different tasks, with the possible consequence that leadership is amorphous and fluid. The second section examines the notion of a Franco-German directorate at the core of the EU. It argues that although the bilateral relationship provides the possibility of a heroic form of leadership, this may not serve well for a great deal of the policy making which takes place in the EU. The third section looks at policy leaders and laggards to show that there may be different types of leader and follower, drawing on a range of resources in various policy areas.

Keywords: differentiation; EU; leadership; Franco-German directorate; leaders

Article.  6045 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; European Union ; Comparative Politics

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