Summer break

Note by the editors: we will take a short break over the summer and resume blogging in the first week of September.

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Professors Alessandra Silveira and Mariana Canotilho, Sergio Marques e Alexandra Severino.

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Joana Whyte and Professor Alessandra Silveira.

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The voters have spoken. Brexit it is.

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by Catherine Barnard, Professor of European Union Law 
and the Jean Monnet Chair of EU Law 
in the Faculty of Law at the University of Cambridge

The voters have spoken. Brexit it is.

But what does Brexit in fact mean? Pulling up the drawbridge altogether or entering some special relationship with the EU? One possibility would be adopting EU law-lite, through membership of the European Economic Area. The UK would retain access to the single market but would still have to pay a membership fee and probably accept free movement of persons, at least in a modified form. What about free trade agreements like the one the EU has with Canada (which is not yet ratified)? But what would this mean for the UK’s flourishing services sector? There are some unpalatable choices ahead for politicians to make.

Meanwhile, there are some important constitutional questions to be addressed. What is required to trigger Article 50 TEU, the legal provision for a country to leave the European Union? Can the Prime Minister do it by way of the exercise of her prerogative (inherent) powers or will there need to be an Act of Parliament? This issue is currently being litigated in the British courts.

Once triggered, how long will the negotiation process take? The Article envisages two years, but with the possibility of an extension but only by unanimous agreement. How will the negotiations fit in with the elections in France and Germany when their leaders have their eye on domestic matters? Can the UK civil service, 25% smaller than in 2005, cope with the severe strains that Brexit will put it under? And what about the position of Scotland and Northern Ireland?

The Brexit vote was the easy bit. The hard work is about to begin.

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Picture credits: ‘Brexit, Polling station sign for the EU referendum vote’, by Ungry Young Man.

A Perspective on Brexit

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by Elaine Dewhurst, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Manchester

and Dimitrios Doukas, Reader in Law, University of Manchester

If there are two words that characterise the sentiments of many British-based academics anticipating Brexit, they would be ‘uncertainty’ and ‘sadness’. In the widest sense, there is uncertainty about the future of the EU as a project, and the place of non-British EU citizens living in the United Kingdom. Since the referendum result, the careers and livelihoods of those who benefit from EU research funding and collaboration and/or whose expertise lies predominantly or exclusively in areas of EU law have been marred by fear and doubt. Within the legal profession, for example, UK lawyers face an uphill challenge of seeking admission to a second Bar or Law Society, such as in Ireland, to enable them to continue enjoying the freedom to provide their services within the EU. Within legal academia, there is much speculation surrounding the furtherance of existing research projects, and recent studies suggest that collaborations and funding are at risk of termination as a result of the referendum. In addition, there is uncertainty over whether a post-Brexit Britain will retain a migration stream for academics which would match the free movement principles in terms of its encouragement of cross-border movement. For many, it is not just the professional difficulties that may deter academics from working in Britain. Some also have considered leaving Britain as they fear (or have already experienced) a rise in racism and xenophobia, a problem which may also discourage others from seeking work in Britain. More widely than this, there is fear of increasing and unchecked populist politics and anti-immigrant sentiment in the United Kingdom, an apprehension heightened because of Britain’s unadulterated majoritarian democracy in which EU law with its extensive judicial controls has heretofore performed an enforceable moderating influence. Uncertainty also mars the student experience. British universities have, and continue to, benefit financially and culturally from the many EU students who come to Britain every year to study. Reports suggest that the numbers of EU students applying to British universities has dropped since the referendum, and existing students have had to receive assurances as regards their position. Equally affected by this uncertainty are those British students wishing to participate in Erasmus programmes (a programme which has already benefitted over 200,000 British students).

Continue reading “A Perspective on Brexit”

Editorial August 2016

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by Katarzyna Gromek-Broc, Senior Lecturer, 
Senior Advisor for Academic Matters,
University of York

[The Editorial team is pleased to annouce that this Editorial and following two articles resume perspectives from British schoolars on Brexit].

Brexit

The 23rd of June 2016 marks an unprecedented moment in British and European history.  A moment that everybody feared, but nobody really believed would actually happen. The moment is heart-breaking: British people decided to abandon the European Project. The results of the referendum of the 23rd of June ‘to leave the EU’ – expressed by 51.9% to 48.1% out of 72.2% of the electorate – symbolised the end of an era lasting 44 years of the UK in the EU.[1] Birkinshaw declared that ‘in the morning after the referendum the country was is in a state of shock’, intensified by the initial calculations of the results, which indicated a slightly pro-Europe advantage.[2]  Although the shift in outcome was predictable since the first results available were from the City of London – a bastion of pro-Europe campaign – backed up by some other dynamic cities, including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Brighton, Manchester and Bristol, with notably high concentrations of intellectual minded adults, as well as young people. The referendum divided Britain geographically and broke the link between the generations. The younger people were in majority in the ‘Remain campaign’.  My region – Yorkshire – sadly voted overwhelmingly to leave.[3] Almost all of the key cities, including Sheffield, Hull, Bradford, Hambleton, North Lincolnshire, Rotherham and Selby, decided to withdraw from the EU, with just a few exceptions, such as Harrogate (51%) and York (58%).[4]

Continue reading “Editorial August 2016”