Brexit and Differentiated Integration – The Politics of Difference

The Brexit vote brought about renewed interest in the principle of differentiated integration and its prospects in the European project. In this working paper, Benjamin Martill considers the relationship between Brexit and differentiated integration, analysing various possible outcomes.

The relationship between Brexit and differentiation is far from clear, since different aspects of British withdrawal lead to divergent outcomes: some predict a significant upturn in differentiation, others claim the principle will be diminished.

Five aspects are relevant: (1) the return of differentiation to the agenda, (2) lessons from the British experience, (3) enabling consequences of UK withdrawal, (4) the removal of British opt-outs, and (5) arrangements for the future relationship.

Examining these cross-cutting and complex effects produces a cautious assessment. Brexit is not sufficient to bring about wholesale movement to a more differentiated Union, but nor does it make the principle obsolete.

Read the working paper here 

Keywords: Brexit; differentiated integration; European politics; UK-EU relationship; opt-outs

Benjamin Martill is an former Dahrendorf Post-doctoral researcher, an associate at LSE IDEAS, and aLecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of Edinburgh.