The Global Reach of EU Law and Brexit: Between Theory and Praxis?

Irish Journal of European Law (2017, Forthcoming)

Posted: 8 Sep 2017

See all articles by Elaine Fahey

Elaine Fahey

City, University of London - City Law School

Date Written: September 6, 2017


The Global Reach of EU law is charted in literature over several decades and is distinctively developed often by US and Swiss-based authors as much as from EU-based authors/ scholars across a range of disciplines rendering it a rich field of global thought. Its development by authors outside of the EU in its analysis often of third countries also has the advantage of bringing added global value as ‘external thought’ or ‘thinking’ to current debates. The essence of the phenomenon of the global reach of EU law is that the laws, rules and standards governing the single market constitute homogenous forms of regulation for a vast range of subject areas governing a bloc of half a billion consumers and traders are sufficiently desirable that many third countries adopt them as takers; alternatively, traders, businesses, companies, associations, countries receive them or are subjected to them, compelled to or otherwise. Thus, the global reach of EU law encompasses the perceived ‘spillover’ effect of EU regulatory standards on US rules in the realm of, inter alia, genetically modified foods, data privacy standards and chemical safety rules (‘The so-called Brussels Effect’); the extent to which EU legal rules are actually transplanted in the US: for example, the transposition of EU environmental standards in California, Boston and Maine (‘From Brussels with Love’), The incorporation of EU vehicle emissions standards into Chinese and Japanese law, EU makeup standards in Malaysia and innovative transfers of policies from the EU to the US in socio-economic fields of law. It also spans the internationalisation of EU law and Europeanisation of international law as a phenomenon in non-economic fields of law, as much as technical and administrative procedures and standards in, for example, environmental and food law. The paper argues that a significantly overlooked point as to the future of the UK in the Brexit negotiations with the EU is that, irrespective of the outcome of the negotiations being a hard or soft Brexit or any other formulation thereof, in reality the UK will inevitably become subject to what is referred to as the Global Reach of EU Law. A less sophisticated but succinct synopsis of the argument might be that: ‘you can run but you cannot hide from EU law’.

Keywords: Brexit; European Union law; Global reach; Globalisation; UK rule-taker

JEL Classification: K00; K33

Suggested Citation

Fahey, Elaine, The Global Reach of EU Law and Brexit: Between Theory and Praxis? (September 6, 2017). Irish Journal of European Law (2017, Forthcoming). Available at SSRN:

Elaine Fahey (Contact Author)

City, University of London - City Law School ( email )

Northampton Square
London, London EC1V OHB
United Kingdom

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics