A qualitative change in the process of European integration

Annette Bongardt*, Francisco Torres

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The UK triggered Brexit, as the outcome of a democratic process that involved a referendum, repeated confirmations in parliament by overwhelming majorities and a general election. For the EU, Brexit marks a qualitative change in the nature of European integration. It has opened the door for permanently discontent member states and also for other outliers to leave the club, which as we argue is a very positive development, as member states need to contribute to the common good and be committed to shared values. Allowing for special deals or concessions with privileges that only accrue from membership or for too flexible a EU (to accommodate very different preferences) would undermine the European integration project in the long run. It follows that the EU cannot give in to a soft Brexit bespoke agreement, as that would mean in practice free riding on the EU: the UK would maintain most of its EU membership advantages without the obligations (sharing sovereignty) and the commitment to the project of a member. The EU can only work and deliver if it is cohesive, that is, if it manages to build a strong political core (the Eurozone) to which differentiated integration can be anchored.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAfter Brexit
Subtitle of host publicationconsequences for the European Union
EditorsNazaré da Costa Cabral, José Renato Gonçalves, Nuno Cunha Rodrigues
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9783319666709
ISBN (Print)9783319666693
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2017


  • Brexit
  • Article 50
  • United Kingdom
  • European Union
  • Ever-closer union
  • Differentiated integration
  • Economic and monetary union


Dive into the research topics of 'A qualitative change in the process of European integration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this