With or without EU: Differentiated integration and the politics of post-Brexit EU-UK security collaboration

Benjamin Martill, Monika Sus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Research on differentiated integration has flourished in recent years, highlighting the political and efficiency gains to be had from selective participation and third country engagement in EU policy areas. Proposals for an EU-UK security and defence agreement represented a paradigmatic example of differentiated disintegration, for which both strategic and political prospects initially appeared positive, yet which ultimately foundered on the back of the EU’s reluctance to create new third country models and subsequent political upheaval in the UK. This Article asks why these proposals failed and what this can tell us about the politics of differentiated (dis)integration, focusing on the referendum to the recent Ukraine crisis, and drawing on several elite interviews conducted with policymakers in London and Brussels. It shows that while the strategic benefits of differentiation increased following the Brexit vote, the growing concern in Brussels for the precedent set by Brexit, the collapse of issue-specific dynamics into a singular concern for UK “cherry picking”, and the rightward shift in UK politics occasioned by the Brexit negotiations all undermined the prospects for a differentiated outcome in security and defence. The Ukraine crisis, while precipitating significant changes in many European states, had thus far failed to alter the new status quo locked in after Brexit.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1287-1302
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Papers - A Journal on Law and Integration
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Brexit
  • differentiated integration
  • EU-UK relations
  • European security
  • Ukraine war
  • United Kingdom


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