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Origins and Consequences of European Crises: Global Views on Brexit


Edited By Birte Wassenberg and Noriko Suzuki

Almost sixty years after the signature of the Treaty of Rome in 1957 creating the European Community), a Member-State, the United Kingdom, has for the first time in history decided to leave the European Union. The "yes" to leave vote during the British referendum on 26 June 2016 led to the use of Article 50 of the EU Treaty triggering off a long period of negotiations between the UK and the EU, which was overshadowed by a permanent struggle between the options of a "deal" or a "no-deal". The Withdrawal Agreement was finally signed on 24 January 2020 and Brexit actually took place on 31 January 2020 – more than three and a half years after the referendum. It is not surprising that a lot of analyses have been put forward to explain the British electoral result, mainly from the perspective of political sociology. However, there has been less research so far on the deeper roots of Brexit as a historical and political process and its development from the start of the referendum campaign until the end of the negotiations between the UK and the EU, nor on its possible social, economic, legal and (geo)political consequences.

In order to examine the origins and consequences of Brexit, this publication develops two original perspectives. On the one hand, it has taken a pluridisciplinary approach comparing the point of views of sociologists, political scientists, legal experts and historians. On the other hand, it has adopted a global approach by comparing the analyses of Japanese, Canadian, American and European researchers. These "Global Views on Brexit" regroup the contributions to an international Conference on "The Consequences of Brexit" organised on 6-7 December 2018 in Strasbourg, in the framework of the Jean Monnet project on Crises in European Border Regions supported by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union (EU) for the period from 2018-2020.

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Introduction (Birte Wassenberg)


Birte Wassenberg

Since the vote of the British people in the referendum on 26 June 2016, when 52 % opted to leave and 48 % to remain in the European Union (EU), the European agenda has been dominated by the question how to organize the British exit, the so-called Brexit. There have been three years of passionate debates and negotiations preceding the final date of departure of the United Kingdom (UK) from the EU on 31 January 2020. In general, these debates were marked more by emotions than by facts and figures, mainly because Brexit had come as a shock for many people on both sides of the Channel. Indeed, almost sixty years after the signature of the Treaty of Rome in 1957 creating the European Community (EC), it was the first time in history that a Member State had decided to leave the Union.

But from a historical perspective, the British decision does not come as a total surprise.1 Since their entry into the EC in 1972, the British have contested a lot of decisions in Brussels and have negotiated numerous advantages, for example regarding their budget contribution, as well as opting outs, such as for the Monetary Union or for the Common Security and Justice Affairs pillar. In fact, the UK has shown a considerable mistrust of the Community from the start, as the first referendum on membership on 5 June 1975 shows, where only 64.5 % had voted in favour of the EC.2...

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