The impact of Brexit: A neofunctionalist perspective

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Emma Tindal-Clarke


Brexit, United Kingdom, European Union, Neofunctionalism, Ernst B Haas


This paper examines the impact of the recent Brexit crisis in Europe and the extent to which the neofunctionalist perspective can be used to understand the continued integration of the European Union (EU). It identifies key issues surrounding the exit of the United Kingdom from the EU, analysing the extent to which this crisis has affected the EU overall. By examining the historical progression of public opinion and national referendum discussions, this paper explores how the possibility of Brexit has united the member states of the EU, instead of dividing them as predicted. It addresses how the future of the EU can be explained through the concept of neofunctional integration as a crisis spillover effect, and explores the relevance of Ernst B Haas’s work on continued European integration 50 years after its publication in 1968. This paper also discusses criticisms of Haas’s work, but maintains that Haas’s theoretical perspective remains relevant to our understanding of modern regional integration, despite longstanding criticisms. Finally, I conclude by considering the future impacts of Brexit for the EU, and the ways in which this institution can utilise future external struggles to strengthen its unity from within.

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