Is the United Kingdom a Mini-EU?

gb flagsRonan McCrea, Barrister and Senior Lecturer in Law at UCL, draws parallels between the political structure of the UK and the European Union and argues that, with the growth of independence movements in Scotland and Wales, the UK increasingly resembles a loose collection of sovereign nations.

The United Kingdom is to leave the European Union, partly in order to protect the right to self-government of the UK as a nation state as expressed through the sovereignty of the Westminster Parliament. Interestingly, the reaction to the decision to leave the EU reveals the degree to which through a combination of devolution with increased recourse to referendums, the United Kingdom has drifted into being a kind of voluntary grouping of sovereign nations that bears significant similarities to the European Union. Continue reading

The road to Brexit: 16 things you need to know about what will happen if we vote to leave the EU

GB_balloonAs the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU draws closer, the result is impossible to predict. Many are asking what, in practical terms, would happen if we vote for Brexit. Alan Renwick, Deputy Director of the UCL Constitution Unit, explored some key elements of the withdrawal process before the referendum campaign began. Here, he gives a point-by-point overview of what the road to Brexit might look like.

The effect of the referendum

1. We will not immediately leave the EU if the result on 24 June shows a majority for Brexit. Indeed, in purely legal terms, the referendum result has no effect at all: the vote is advisory, so, in principle, the government could choose to ignore it. In political terms, however, ministers could not do that. We should presume that a vote to leave means that we will leave (see point 16) – though there is scope for various complications along the way. Continue reading

Losing citizenship and democratic authority in Europe

European Parliament/Flickr. (CC 2.0 by-nc-nd)Damian Chalmers, Professor of EU Law at LSE and Fellow of UK in a Changing Europe, argues that the EU will continue to be perceived as authoritarian until it reforms its relationship with national citizenship and political community. This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s commissioning partnership with openDemocracy.

When the EU’s heads of state and government met in Laeken in 2001 to start the process that culminated in the Lisbon treaty, it was not meant to be like this. A new settlement was to be built that would not only be the byword for constitutional democracy beyond the state but that would also provide the framework within which a post-national community could live at ease with itself. Individuals were to be as comfortable being and living alongside EU citizens as they were alongside national citizens.

Fast forward nearly 15 years and migration has become a touchstone for the dissolution of that dream. The rawness of its politics has consumed the EU’s decision-making structures and seemingly overwhelmed its authority. More pervasively, migration is associated with a climate of popular mistrust of political institutions, both national and EU, in which the latter are perceived by a part of the citizenry as unresponsive and unable to deal with claim and counterclaim. The commitments of national citizens to foreigners, be these other EU citizens or non-EU nationals, has been called increasingly into question and into competition with commitments to fellow nationals. Continue reading