The European Union after Brexit addresses the ways in which Brexit has changed and will change European Union politics: the forces, mechanisms and stakes of an unprecedented transformation of the European polity. How will the EU operate without one of its key diplomatic and international military partners? What will happen to its priorities, internal balance(s) of power, and legislation without the reliably liberal and Eurosceptic United Kingdom? What are the effects of the Brexit negotiations on the EU? In general, what happens when an ‘ever closer union’ founded on a virtuous circle of economic, social, and political integration is called into question? This book is largely positive about the future of the EU after Brexit, but it suggests that the process of European integration has gone into reverse, with Brexit coming amidst other developments that disrupt the optimistic trajectory of integration. Contributors focus on areas spanning foreign policy, political economy, public policy, and citizenship, with chapters covering topics such as international trade, the internal market, freedom of movement, the European legal system, networks, security relations, social Europe and the impact of Brexit on Central and Eastern Europe. Chapters are grounded in comparative politics, political economy, and institutionalist approaches to politics and economics.
Brexit, a major change in EU politics and a diminution of the EU population, economic weight, and prestige, has attracted relatively little European attention, in contrast to the scrutiny it has understandably received in the United Kingdom. This chapter introduces arguments about why the impact of Brexit on the EU will be substantial, setting the stage for contributors to this volume to examine its consequences for the Single Market and economic governance, for the legal order and social construction of the EU, and for the future external orientation and institutional forms of the EU. This chapter also outlines how Brexit will provoke a more fundamental disruption in the ideological climate of the EU, as the most reliably ‘liberal champion’ in the EU departs. Among the themes that emerge across this volume, this chapter notes discussions about whether Brexit will leave the EU with greater integrative potential; whether British intellectual influence in Europe will continue; and whether the EU itself will learn lessons about the viability of austerity and fiscal governance as it seeks to respond to its own challenges of legitimacy.