Even if the United Kingdom’s reconsideration of its membership to the EU has not induced other members to follow suit, it is the first case of disintegration in the EU. This is discussed in a new book on EU- research, in which UiA was involved.
This article is more than one years old, and may contain outdated information.
“Naturally we do not know for sure what will happen. But taken into consideration Brexit’s implications for European Union politics, institutions and fellow members, this sketches a likely scenario.”
This statement comes from Stefan Gänzle, professor in Political Science at the Department of Political Science and Management at the University of Agder. Together with his UiA colleague Jarle Trondal and Benjamin Leruth from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, he edited the book Differentiated Integration and Disintegration in a Post-Brexit Era.
The book has recently been published by the prestigious publishing house Routledge. It contains theoretical analyses and evaluations by 20 international contributors with regards to the most significant implications of Brexit for the debate around EU integration. The three editors have also contributed with some of their own articles in the book.
Starting point of the book is the decision by the British Cameron II-government to hold a referendum on European Union membership in 2016. This triggered a new process within the context of European integration – the work that has been done so far to create a political and economic community of European countries since the end of the second World War and up to today.
Read as well: Mer om Brexit av førstelektor Jan Erik Mustad (only in Norwegian)
“A term that is often used these days is differentiation. This describes the wish to selectively weaken the attachment to the European Union in some areas. Differentiation is not a new term, we have seen it being used ever since the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992, which turned the European Economic Community into the European Union. However, the usage of the word has clearly increased in popularity since the beginning of the Brexit-process”, says Stefan Gänzle.
The book also explains how the United Kingdom’s strategy with regards to Brexit, not necessarily has been the best strategy for the country.
The United Kingdom has decided to leave the European Union by means of a referendum. The book analyses the dilemma’s the country is facing due to their choice to leave the European Union rather than initiate negotiations on precisely differentiation with regards to topics such as immigration, economic conditions and contributions to the community.
“The negotiation position of a nation demanding disintegration as a result of a referendum, is clearly weaker than that of a nation negotiating internally before opting out”, says Stefan Gänzle.
The professor in political science also points out that the United Kingdom will have to create new ties to the EU. With the chosen opt-out strategy, the country hardly finds itself with an optimal starting position.
“When the United Kingdom leaves the EU, they must still relate to it with regards to most issues that have remained unchanged. However, as mentioned, their negotiation position has changed. That is why I would not be surprised if the United Kingdom will be confronted with some sort of “silent EEA-isation” on many topics while the harmonisation process is ongoing” says Stefan Gänzle.
Stefan Gänzle also expects that the United Kingdom will not only be forced to collaborate with the EU, they will even be forced to collaborate closely with the Union on topics such as immigration control.
“This is what we have witnessed at other occasions with disintegration of regional organisations. It is probable that something similar will happen here. An example is the economic community ECOWAS in West-Africa. After Mauretania’s opt-out, new and relatively close forms of unity and collaboration were re- established.
Another effect of Brexit is that a range of euro-sceptical parties in Europe no longer view an immediate opt-out strategy as the best alternative.
“We see this with parties such as Alternative für Deutschland, Sverigedemokraterna and the French Rassemblement national, (formerly known as Front National). Previously they aimed to opt out abruptly, but now they have toned down their demands for immediate exit from the EU – and this is a direct consequence of Brexit”, says professor Stefan Gänzle.