Political Research Exchange

Brexit and the Future of Europe: Towards a Theory of European Disintegration

European Union
 
Integration
 
Differentiation
 
Presenter
Antonio Sergio
Aston University
Authors
Antonio Sergio
Aston University

Abstract
The European Union is ‘in a state of disequilibrium’ (Bickerton et al 2015), ‘failing forward’ (Jones et al 2016), or even more straightforwardly – the EU is at risk of disintegration. Indeed, the British vote to leave the European Union in last June’s EU referendum has put a question mark on the future of European integration, not least because for the first time in its history a member state is exiting the EU. Yet, academic research specifically addressing European disintegration is at its early stages. By exploring whether theories of European Integration can shed some light in explaining and conceptualizing European Disintegration, this paper will take stock of the emerging literature on European (Dis)integration theorising and will apply it to the outcome of British EU referendum. In particular, the contribution will explore the Brexit vote by critically engaging with Neo-functionalism’s concept of “countervailing forces” and the recent “spillback” hypothesis put forward by Schmitter and Lefkofrid (2016) with the six hypothesis of the New Intergovernmentalism (Bickerton et al 2015), which this paper claims grasps better the reasons why Britain voted to leave the EU. Although the paper claims that the New Intergovernmentalism is at the forefront of conceptualizing the emerging field of European (dis)integration studies, it also claims that this is only the case due to the underdeveloped state in differentiated (dis)integration theorising (Schimmelfennig et al 2015; Leruth and Lord 2015; Fossum 2015)

Short List of References:
Bickerton, C., Hodson, D., and Puetter, U. (eds) (2014) The New Intergovernmentalism: European Integration in the Post-Maastricht Era. Oxford University Press.
Fossum, J. (2015) ‘Democracy and differentiation in Europe’, Journal of European Public Policy.
Jones, E., Kelemen, R., and Meunier, S. (2016) ‘Failing Forward?: The Euro Crisis and the Incomplete Nature of European Integration’, Comparative Political Studies 2016.
Leruth, B. and Lord, C. (2015) ‘Differentiated integration in the European Union: a concept, a process, a system or a theory?’, Journal of European Public Policy.
Schmitter, P. and Lefkofridi, Z. (2016) ‘Neofunctionalism as a Theory of Disintegration’, Paper presented originally under the title ‘The Politicization of European Integration in Times of Crisis’ Chinese Political Science Review
Schimmelfennig, F. Leuffen, D., and Rittberger, B. (2016) ‘The European Union as a system of differentiated integration: interdependence, politicization and differentiation’, Journal of European Public Policy.
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