Brexit and the European Union: The end of a rocky relationship and the challenges of an integration process worth fighting for

acedi-cilsa-brexit-eu-anz

 

By: Natalia Andrea Pardo Zapata, Universidad del Rosario.[1]

 

An easy point of reference when it comes to integration in the international society is the European Union (EU). However, during the last years this organization has been passing through difficult situations that raise doubts about whether this project worth fighting for. The most recent event that threats in every sense the stability of the EU was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s decision to quit the Union. Therefore, there are many challenges to come for the organization and its relations with one of the most active States in the international arena.

On the basis of the foregoing, it is possible to analyze the situation in light of international law and international relations. This study will be focused on Europe’s future after “Brexit”, emphasizing the obstacles that the communitarian institutions must overcome. Accordingly, to achieve a holistic overview of the case, it is necessary to evaluate European institutions since its inception, its evolution and the changes that will be needed to maintain the regional integration.

 

First of all, it is important to recall the mission and goals of European integration. After World War II, the continent was looking for a regional mechanism that could boost cooperation among States[2]. Thence the relevance of coal and steel in the development of different conflicts between European countries seemed one of the main issues to solve. In this sense, the foundation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1951 and the European Defense Community in (EDC), produced a big step for the European interconnection[3].

 

Accordingly, both organizations represented the European States’ willing to adopt a supranational regime based on an institutional delegation. Pollack affirms this system consists on the member-state delegation of certain powers to supranational institutions trusting that these institutions will address a set of collective action problems[4]. Along with the great advance in the enhancement of regional cooperation, in 1957 the governments of Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany signed the constitutive treaty of the European Economic Community (EEC) and the Euratom, through which the States looked for freer trade and greater economic integration[5].

 

In reference to the EEC, this association mixed supranationalism and intergovernmentalism on its institutional structure, showing the “willingness of the Six to subordinate their traditional sovereign rights”[6]. Years after the Treaty of Rome the economic crisis came for Europe, the national business associations and governments sought a mechanism to promote national champions and a global marketplace[7]. Thereby, with the Single European Act (SEA), in 1986 the region achieved a single agreement and an institutional change that lead its members to the foundation of the EU six years later[8].

 

Finally in 1993 the European Union was founded under the establishment of new pillars for the founders, and they gradually extended to other States in the enlargement processes[9]. During this integration evolution, the United Kingdom (UK) cooperated since 1973 until the 23rd June of 2016[10] and its relations with the whole union never were completely harmonious. With a constant opposition to economic and political measures, the British government represented the main threat to the EU and its credibility.

 

Therefore, it is important to analyze the changes and challenges that the Union faces upon the UK’s retirement. In this light, it will be necessary to answer questions such as: what are the pros and cons of Brexit for the European integration? What measures should be applied to maintain the stability of the Union? And which are the main challenges that the negotiation between Europe and the United Kingdom faces? Within the margins of international law and international relations, the outcome of this study will be helpful to understand the following steps for the European integration.

 

  1. What are the pros and cons of Brexit for the European integration?

 

1.1. Pros of Brexit of the European integration

The UK have had a long rocky relationship with the Union, and this situation is about to end. Hence the EU will reduce the opposition in its institutional policy-making process, and one of the benefits that can arise from it is a change on the adoption of public policies. As follows, Brexit may teach the Council and the Parliament to transform its interfering method on the formal adoption process of EU policies[11].

 

Moreover, as there are other eurosceptics in the region, the negative consequences that might come for the United Kingdom will be useful to persuade those opponents on the reinforcement of the Union. In a globalized world, the problems that the British citizens will face due to this decision, is one of the founders’ best tool to reduce any doubt about the importance of this regional organization.

 

Finally, as there will be less Europeans covered by the EU benefits, the communitarian policies will be more profitable for the state-member citizens. In this light, the people’s pressure under the European institutions will be reduced as the benefits increase. Thus, the empowerment of the individual and groups through EU law will be crucial to boost the effectiveness in the implementation of EU policy[12].

 

1.2. Cons of Brexit of the European integration

At first sight it seems that there are a lot of negative consequences to highlight from this case. Although, it is possible to point out three major categories of cons: i) economic issues ii) institutional challenges, and iii) political outcomes.

 

The main disadvantage when it comes to the economic issues is the power loss of euro area. Since the referendum day, the negative effects of Brexit have been felt by the European economy; consequently, “investors have been offloading shares in UK and other European banks on worries about the economic outlook and their likely profitably in uncertain times.”[13] In addition, as the OCDE’s policy paper showed, “Brexit would be akin to a tax on GDP”[14] which means a higher cost on the economy that would not exit if UK remained in the Union.

 

Concerning the institutional challenges, the EU must work on its cohesion. Taking into account the social, economic and political problems that during the last years have taken place in the European States, the legitimacy of the Union has lapsed. As one of the most important States in the international society quits the organization, other eurosceptics tend to follow its steps. Thus, the European institutions show apply different measures to guarantee the regional cohesion and to improve integration.

 

Finally, recalling the United Nations Charter, Brexit means a great loss for the Union as the United Kingdom is one of the permanent members of the Security Council[15]. In this light, the interests of EU will leak of influence in one of the most important scenarios of UN. Likewise, the relationships with NATO may become most tense, considering that UK has worked as a bridge between both organizations.[16] Accordingly, this and some other foreign affairs will suffer the effects of the political outcomes of Brexit.

 

In conclusion, as there are benefits and obstacles to manage, the Union must work on the inner policy-making and the cooperation with the governments in order to alleviate the disadvantages of Brexit and grasp the benefits of UK’s retirement.

 EU and UK flags

 

  1. Which measures should be applied to maintain the stability of the Union?

 

According to the European Parliament’s publication “Brexit and the European Union: General Institutional and Legal Considerations”, all policies must be monitored and considered, even those with in which the UK is not fully involved[17]. Furthermore, the Parliament’s policy-making process will depend on the political relationship that is agreed on. Although, the organ proposed the forward participation of the UK in the Multiannual Financial Framework, which ends in 2020. This measure will be an easy solution for the adoption of policies that have financial implications[18].

 

Furthermore, the legal framework of the Union must be arranged and modified, considering the special circumstances that UK’s retirement implies. From the adjustment of Article 52 of the Treaty on the European Union or Maastricht Treaty (TEU) on the territorial scope of the EU, to the Article 48 TEU amendment to adapt the procedure for the withdrawal agreement. Finally, in this sense, it is necessary to check the rules of financing the EU and the allocation of seats in the Parliament.[19]

 

In addition, the European institutions should work from the inside to the outside to maintain its cohesion. How it must be done? The organization has to consider the objections that lead the UK to quit the Union. Therefore, Brexit could be the guideline for EU state-members in order to establish the framework for a better Union. In this light, issues such as the single market, the policy-making process and the cooperation among the communitarian institutions and European governments are crucial points to develop in the agenda.

 

Finally, the withdrawal agreement implies a great effort, not only for the Union but for the UK. Consequently, it is possible to affirm that as there is a guideline of what each part is willing to give, the negotiation process must not deviate Europe’s interests. As the Parliament highlighted on its publication, the goal is to avoid Brexit’s high impact on the institutional structure of the Union.

 

  1. Which are the main challenges that the negotiation between Europe and the United Kingdom face?

 

To point out the challenges the negotiation faces, foreign affairs issues raises up threatening the withdrawal agreement. First of all, it is important to highlight the inner division of the United Kingdom. On this subject, the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples is the main topic, as it is the basis of Scotch and Irish willing to remain in the Union. Although, these States are part of the UK and it implies the subordination to central government decisions.

 

In this sense, the cohesion of the United Kingdom is at risk too. As the number of actors could increase, the negotiation may become complex, and the challenges to come intensify. Likewise, Theresa May’s declarations about the negotiations and British interests on the withdrawal have affected UE and UK’s relations[20]. In brief, May’s goal is to quit the single market, without affecting other benefits that a state-member might receive from the Union, and this position altered UK’s image under European’s eyes.

 

Furthermore, Gibraltar’s dispute[21] entails a threat to the negotiation stability, taking into account Spanish interest and its influence on the development of the agreement. Spain could be an obstacle to the withdrawal process of UK and this situation implies a big challenge, mainly to the British government, on the management of its foreign policy. To conclude, these circumstances are the challenges the negotiation faces and its management will define the success of the withdrawal agreement. European governments should bear in mind these issues in order to achieve the best agreement towards British retirement.

 

CONCLUSION

The European governments have worked all along together to promote regional cooperation in order to improve the integration mechanisms. Although Brexit signifies a threat to the EU and despite there are pros and cons from British retirement, it is important to emphasize the institutional work that must be done for the Union preservation.

 

As the integration process evolution until nowadays has shown, the different international relation affairs develop, European countries reacted to create legal frameworks seeking the possibility to reinforce regional cohesion. Accordingly, strategical action is needed towards the accomplishment of EU goals in a process marked by highs and lows in the international arena.

 

In conclusion, the European Union faces hard times but this is a project worth fighting for. As time goes by, the organization’s institutional structure will find the way to establish the ideal measures to achieve a real integration among European countries boosting cooperation despite Euroscepticism.


 

Notes: 

[1]  Natalia Is double majoring in Law and International Relations at Universidad del Rosario. She has been member of investigation groups such for the Moot Court Charles-Rousseau (ICJ) and in the Observatory of International Law for the Colombian Yearbook of International Law (CYIL). Although she was being awarded for her participation on Models of United Nations (MUN). In 2016 she made an internship at Garrigues Colombia and she is interested on International Business Law, Taxation Law and Foreing Affairs.

[2] Cartou, Louis. L’ Union Europénne. 1st ed. Paris: Dalloz, 1996. Print. pg, 36.

[3] Jones, Erik, Anand Menon, and Stephen Weatherill. The Oxford Handbook Of The European Union. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print. pg, 79

[4] Pollack Mark. Delegation, Agency, and Agenda Setting in the European Community. 1st ed. International Organization, 1997, Pollack Mark. The Engines of European Integration. Delegation, Agency, and Agenda Setting in the EU. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford Press, 2003.

[5] Jones, Erik, Anand Menon, and Stephen Weatherill. The Oxford Handbook Of The European Union. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print. pg, 95.

[6] Jones, Erik, Anand Menon, and Stephen Weatherill. The Oxford Handbook Of The European Union. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print. pg, 105.

[7]  Jones, Erik, Anand Menon, and Stephen Weatherill. The Oxford Handbook Of The European Union. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print. pg, 108.

[8] Jones, Erik, Anand Menon, and Stephen Weatherill. The Oxford Handbook Of The European Union. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print. pg, 117.

[9] “United Kingdom – European Union Website, The Official EU Website – European Commission”. European Union website, the official EU website – European Commission. N.p., 2017. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.

[10] (cita)

[11] Richardson, Jeremy. European Union: Power and policy-making. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2001. Print. pg, 339

[12] Richardson, Jeremy. European Union: Power and policy-making. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2001. Print. pg, 334

[13] Allen, Katie, and Angela Monaghan. “Brexit Fallout – The Economic Impact In Six Key Charts”. the Guardian. N.p., 2017. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.

[14] “The Economic Consequences Of Brexit: A Taxing Decision – OECD”. Oecd.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 12 Apr. 2017

[15] United Nations Charter. San Francisco (1945), Art. 23.

[16] “Britain Commits To European Security, Despite Brexit -NATO Chief”. Reuters UK. N.p., 2017. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.

[17] “Brexit and the European Union: General Institutional and Legal Considerations” European Parliament. Committe on Constitutional Affairs. January 2017. pg, 40.

[18] “Brexit and the European Union: General Institutional and Legal Considerations” European Parliament. Committe on Constitutional Affairs. January 2017. pg, 41.

[19] “Brexit and the European Union: General Institutional and Legal Considerations” European Parliament. Committe on Constitutional Affairs. January 2017. pg, 43.44.

[20] Asthana, Anushka. “Theresa May To Confirm UK Exit From EU Single Market”. The Guardian. N.p., 2017. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.

[21] Jordine, Melissa R. The Dispute over Gibraltar. 1st ed. New York: Chelsea House, 2006. Print. pg, 2.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Cartou, Louis. L’ Union Europénne. 1st ed. Paris: Dalloz, 1996. Print.

 

Jones Erik, Anand Menon, and Stephen Weatherill. The Oxford Handbook Of The European Union. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.

 

Jordine, Melissa R. The Dispute Over Gibraltar. 1st ed. New York: Chelsea House, 2006. Print.

 

Pollack Mark. Delegation, Agency, and Agenda Setting in the European Community. 1st ed. International Organization, 1997.

 

Pollack Mark. The Engines of European Integration. Delegation, Agency, and Agenda Setting in the EU. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford Press, 2003.

 

Richardson, Jeremy. European Union: Power and policy-making. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2001. Print.

 

Wierner Antje and Thomas Diez. European Integration Theory. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Print.

 

Allen, Katie, and Angela Monaghan. “Brexit Fallout – The Economic Impact In Six Key Charts”. the Guardian. N.p., 2017. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.

 

Asthana, Anushka. “Theresa May To Confirm UK Exit From EU Single Market”. the Guardian. N.p., 2017. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.

 

“Brexit and the European Union: General Institutional and Legal Considerations” European Parliament. Committe on Constitutional Affairs. January 2017. pg, 40.

 

“Britain Commits To European Security, Despite Brexit -NATO Chief”. Reuters UK. N.p., 2017. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.

 

“The Economic Consequences Of Brexit: A Taxing Decision – OECD”. Oecd.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.

 

“United Kingdom – European Union Website, The Official EU Website – European Commission”. European Union website, the official EU website – European Commission. N.p., 2017. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.

 

United Nations Charter. San Francisco (1945).

 

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