Brexit and the Future of Europe: Opportunities for Constitutional Reforms?
Federico Fabbrini (ed), The Law & Politics of Brexit, Oxford University Press, 2017, ISBN 9780198810438.
Brexit Research and policy institute working paper no. 2-2017
23 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2018 Last revised: 9 Feb 2018
Date Written: June 13, 2017
The paper considers how Brexit affects the EU treaties, and argues that withdrawal of the UK compels the EU institutions and the remaining member states to engage in constitutional change at EU level. As it points out, once the UK leaves the EU, several provisions of the EU treaties and a number of quasi-constitutional EU norms – including the European Council decision on the composition of the EP, and the rules on the financing of the EU – will need to be amended to adapt the EU to the reality of a Union at 27. The revision of these legal norms, however, may open a window of opportunity to discuss more far-reaching changes to the EU constitutional system. During the euro-crisis, and in the context of the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties, a number of roadmaps have been presented at the highest level by EU institutions and several national governments to reform the EU and fix its structural problems. Since these reform proposals mostly concern the functioning of the EU institutions and the financing of the EMU - precisely the two areas where legal changes will be needed after Brexit – this may create the space for a grand-bargain. Clearly, the track-record of treaty reforms in the EU is mixed, and the paper underlines the many legal and political obstacles toward a new constitutional settlement in Europe. Nevertheless, it suggests that the current constitutional status quo is not Pareto optimal, and that the growing calls for a multi-speed Europe signal a credible alternative: after Brexit, integration by a sub-group of states remains a distinctive possibility in case the efforts to reform the EU constitutional system were to falter due to idiosyncratic national reasons. Hence, the paper concludes that while Brexit offers a chance to reform the EU at 27, Europe’s future may lay in a federal union on a smaller scale.
Keywords: Brexit, Future of Europe, constitutional reforms
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