The Brexit Vote: Conceptualizing European (Dis)Integration

  • Abstract:

    The European Union is ‘in a state of disequilibrium’ (Bickerton et al 2014: 14), ‘failing forward’ (Jones et al 2015), or even more straightforwardly – the EU is at risk of disintegration (Legrain 2015). Indeed, the British vote to leave the European Union in last June’s EU referendum has put a question mark on the future of European integration, not least because for the first time in its history a member state is exiting the EU. Yet, academic research specifically addressing European disintegration is at its early stages. By exploring whether theories of European Integration can shed some light in explaining and conceptualizing European Disintegration, this paper will take stock of the emerging literature on European (Dis)integration (Schmitter and Lefkofrid 2015; Scheller and Eppler 2014; Vollaard 2014; Oliver 2015) and will apply it to the outcome of British EU referendum. In particular, the contribution will explore the Brexit vote by comparing and contrasting Neo-functionalism’s concept of “spillback” and “countervailing forces” with the six hypothsesis of the New Intergovernmentalism.