Ties that bind, can also strangle: the Brexit threat and the hardships of reforming the EU

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Series Details Vol.23, No.9, October 2016, p1311-1320
Publication Date October 2016
ISSN 1350-1763
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This article links insights from research on European Union (EU) decision-making and on differentiated integration to the recent negotiations about the future United Kingdom (UK)–EU relationship. We argue that since a Brexit would overturn well-established statics of EU decision-making, EU member states reacted differently to the British demands. States that feared a weakening of their position after a Brexit were more willing to grant concessions to the UK. This largely applies to most northern member states. In contrast, most other member states appeared more reluctant to meet the British expectations. First, these states hoped to improve their standing inside the EU after a Brexit. Second, reflecting deeper structural tensions, the British demands would have entailed higher prices for these member states.

Anticipating heterogeneity between the other member states, and thus the stability enhancing mechanisms of the joint decision trap, the UK downscaled its demands before the European Council of February 2016. In consequence, the negotiations on the terms of Britain’s EU membership did not result in a grand overhaul of the EU, but rather in symbolic concessions aimed at pleasing British domestic politics without severely harming other member states’ interests.

Source Link http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13501763.2016.1174532
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