Differentiated integration is one of the ‘magic’ concepts of integration theories. Although differentiated integration exists in the European integration since the establishment of the Rome Treaty, only in the last ten years became a new direction of European integration. Supporting this, the evolution of the concept is introduced with special emphasis on the various political, legal and academic interpretations. This paper analyses differentiated integration within the Lisbon Treaty and argues that it is a milestone in the realization of it. The paper further argues that differentiated integration is an approach that reinterprets the existing and so far used ‘big’ theories of European integration (federalist, liberal intergovernmental, neo-functionalist, MLG theories etc) and provides new ideas for the self-definition of the European Union itself and in the same time may serve as a pragmatic way out from the scepticism and incapacity that surrounds the contemporary discourses on the ‘finalité politique’ of the EU.
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