Clustering excellence on differentiation

DiCE establishes a large, open and inclusive research network designed to ensure that state-of-the-art research on differentiation is translated into policy advice made accessible to policy-makers at European, national and regional levels.

Over the last decades, the EU has faced a number of crises, from financial and economic to migration crises, but also renewed geopolitical tensions, domestic opposition and Brexit. Such challenges have resulted in calls to make arrangements more flexible and adaptable to member states’ different needs and to different policy areas. Differentiation has gained prominence on the European agenda and is a crucial matter in today’s debates on the future of Europe, raising new questions: Is differentiation sustainable and acceptable? Can differentiation instead lead to democratic problems, or ultimately, disintegration?

Partners, projects and network

DiCE is a Coordination and Support Action (CSA) that brings together the three successful projects funded by the EU’s 2018-2019 governance call on Past, present and future of differentiation in European governance.

The project is composed of the three coordinators of the sister projects Integrating Diversity in the European Union (InDivEU), EU Integration and Differentiation for Effectiveness and Accountability (EU IDEA) and EU Differentiation, Dominance and Democracy (EU3D). These projects collectively constitute an unparalleled network of scholars on differentiation.

In addition to the three coordinating institutions EUI, IAI and ARENA, the DiCE consortium includes TEPSA and the University of Exeter.

DiCE is funded for the period 1.1.2020-31.12.2022.


DiCE is dedicated to translating state-of-the-art research into policy-relevant advice on appropriate approaches to differentiation tendencies and proposals. Through four key objectives, DiCE aims to better anticipate and prepare the EU for future differentiation trajectories:

Academic expert network 

Linking research and policy and considering the different interests and perspectives of citizens, parties and governments is decisive for making informed and constructive policy decisions. DiCE does this through developing an extensive network of academic experts working on differentiation or related topics. DiCE establishes a comprehensive database of experts in EU member and partner countries.

Differentiation portal

Extensive research exists on differentiation and related topics. DiCE undertakes a comprehensive stocktaking and synthesis of research in order to provide a complete picture on this complex subject. The comprehensive academic literature is sorted by means of a 'differentiation manual' and made available through an extensive differentiation portal. The portal will serve as the go-to place to connect policy, academics and other stakeholders to research on differentiation.

Future differentiation scenarios

A major challenge in designing policies with regard to differentiation is to ensure that these policies are solid, complementary and acceptable for all actors involved, as well as anchored in research. In order to support policy makers in examining how much differentiation is necessary, conductive, sustainable and acceptable in Europe, DiCE maps, synthesises, develops and tests future scenarios across a selection of policy areas. In the scenario mapping, DiCE engages with policy makers and planners about future opportunities and risks of differentiation.


DiCE aims to ensure the sustainability and impact of its network and research findings on differentiation also after the end of the project. To this end, DiCE develops training material and teaching tools, and aims to establish an ECPR standing group to institutionalize the academic discussion. DiCE also explores the possibility of establishing a think tank on differentiation.