European Integration Theory and the Future of the European Union after Brexit

298 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2020

Date Written: May 15, 2019


In the last decade all four areas of European integration – economic, social, legal and political – have faced a series of unprecedented crises that have shattered the foundations of the integration process and have thrown into question the future of the European Union. Among the many paradoxes that have riddled the integration project since its inception, none is more puzzling than the one the EU faces currently. Arguably never in any other time has the EU been so integrated and so successful as it is today, and likewise, never in any other time has there been a greater cognitive dissonance and distance between the peoples of Europe and the EU. This project argues that the greatest crisis afflicting the European project is an epistemological crisis, resulting from our continued failure to understand the processes and forces that drive European integration. Attempts to address questions regarding the future of Europe are failing precisely because we are attempting to answer Europe’s ontological question, without first answering Europe’s epistemological question, in other words, we are attempting to agree on a future for Europe without first understanding the very nature of the integration process, and if we persist on this fallacy we are doomed to fail in both pursuits, as we have been failing for the last seventy years. This project argues that in order to solve this paradox, in order to determine the future of the EU and overcome Europe’s crisis, we must adopt a systems theory approach to understand the complex adaptive nature of the integration process. A systems theory approach to European integration theory allows us to uncover and to understand the different inputs that both constrain and compel European integration and allows us to create predictive models of future integration and disintegration.

Note: Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords: European Integration Theory; Brexit; European Union Law; International Relations

Suggested Citation

Magalhaes, Diogo, European Integration Theory and the Future of the European Union after Brexit (May 15, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Diogo Magalhaes (Contact Author)

Cornell Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States
6073797105 (Phone)

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