ABSTRACT This paper introduces the concept of decompression as a specific process of differentiation. Decompression can be anchored as one of the phenomena of non-compliance, representing a distinctive phenomenon, however. Governments or leaders acting in a decompression way are not Eurosceptics and they do not want to reverse the course of integration. We define decompression as a sudden violation of an EU rule by a member state, which leads to immediate disruption of shared trust in a basic EU policy or principle. In the case of a crisis, we can see a ‘compression’, an unexpected crisis-driven demand placed on domestic institutions. Decompression is a relaxation of this pressure triggering the non-application of an EU policy or principle in reaction to changes external to the political equilibrium. It sheds new light on the persistent power of individual politicians to compromise European integration in an unintended way, so far under-reported by the literature.

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