Monday, 23 January 2017

Which European Union after Brexit?

If the debate on Brexit was long and intense, the aftermath of the vote has resulted in an hyperinflation of debates, seminars and workshops on what Brexit may actually entail. But what does it entail? And can we really be sure that the debates have clarified instead of obfuscating the underlying issues?

The European Law Journal is holding what is at the same time another debate on Brexit and actually a very different debate on Brexit.

For one, this debate focuses on the impact that Brexit will have for the European Union as a whole not for Britain exclusively. The point is not to belittle the transcendence of the issue and the coming decisions for the United Kingdom, but rather to avoid the peculiar overfocus on the implications for Britain. Indeed, a good deal of the literature and the debates seems to have slipped into the assumption that this is the most peculiar of divorces, as only one of the members of the couple will actually break away from marriage. The fact of the matter is that Brexit will not only be decisive of the future shape of the United Kingdom, but also of the European Union as a whole.

For two, the ELJ debate is not intended to contribute to the flourishing industry of imagining macroeconomic or legal future scenarios, or for that matter, to devise specific negotiating strategies. Instead of dealing with ‘woulds’ be and ‘as ifs’, the debate aims at engaging with facts, and only on the basis of facts, to consider their implications.

Beyond the rhetoric, Brexit does not mean Brexit (yet), but arguments have been made and decisions have been taken before, during and after the referendum campaign. What do such facts tell us about the European Union? How has the European Union already changed through the negotiation of the failed ‘new settlement for Britain’, the referendum campaign, and the preparation for Brexit negotiations? In view of that what does it mean to be a Member State of this European Union? And what kind of state the European Union itself is becoming, certainly not only as a result of Brexit, but of the several (but perhaps closely interrelated) crises the EU is facing?

ELJ::Debates aim at eliciting strong and passionate albeit friendly and constructive discussion. The journal invites authors that we know in advance hold different (and if possible contrasting) views on a topic of high salience, both in practical and theoretical terms. The goal is not to settle the issue by the end of the debate, but rather to clarify the opposing views through discussion and if possible, to determine where the disagreement lies and where there is common ground, or where sensible compromises could be forged. The debates are then published as special sections of the European Law Journal.