Brexit: Legal and Policy Lessons Learned for the European Union, the Withdrawal Process and European

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Brexit: Legal and Policy Lessons Learned for the European Union, the Withdrawal Process and European

This paper examines some of the lessons learned so far from the Brexit process. It analyses those lessons under three main headings: the European Union itself; the withdrawal process (including Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union); and European Union law. The lessons learned include the following: a realisation about the fragility of the EU project if such a politically stable and long-standing EU member state as the United Kingdom (which is traditionally one of the most compliant member states in terms of implementing EU law) could decide that it was not worthwhile remaining in the EU; the consequential need for the EU to validate itself even more with all of its citizenry; the complexity of EU law; the difficulties involved in withdrawing from the EU; the pervasive nature of EU law; the mistakes made in the Brexit process; and the continued significance of sovereignty not only as far as the Brexiteers are concerned but also as the Court of Justice of the European Union demonstrated in the Wightman litigation. Mistakes were made by both the UK and the EU in letting the situation come to a point where a majority in the UK voted in favour of Brexit – that was a mistake by both the EU and the UK. Mistakes have also been made by the UK in the Brexit process. The Brexit process clearly demonstrates the centrality of law as the force which unites and underpins the EU project. The Brexit process also shows the close interrelationship between law and politics in the EU so this paper combines issues of both legal and political science in its attempt to discern and discuss some of the lessons of Brexit so far.

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