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Origins and Consequences of European Crises: Global Views on Brexit

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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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The Undemocratic Effects of a Referendum: One of the Many Paradoxes of Brexit. A Legal Perspective (Frédérique Berrod)

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Frédérique Berrod

In the referendum campaign in spring 2016, Brexit has been advocated as a means to recover British sovereignty. The option of the Leave has been presented as a necessary step for the UK “to be great again”, out of the ambit of European Union (EU) treaties, regulations and directives and out of the jurisdiction and influence of the European Union Court of Justice (ECJ).1

The choice of a referendum in a country which has been governed for centuries by the principle of the Parliamentary sovereignty is surprising. It was a promise of the Prime Minister Cameron to give a voice to the People on the UK’s membership of the EU, which has been politically contentious ever since the very entry of the UK in the European Community in 1973. From a legal point of view, the referendum is purely consultative and is not subject to any requirement of specific majority. The strategy of Prime Minister Cameron’s Cabinet was to use the referendum to reunify the Conservative Party on the question of the place of the UK within the EU. It is worth recalling that the UK has always given a priority to an exclusive economic dimension of the Union and obtained special status not to be constrained by three main achievements of a more political Union: the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the Monetary Union and the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (encompassing the Schengen Area).

On the 23rd...

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