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Session Overview
Panel 106: Negotiating Article 50
Monday, 02/Sep/2019:
10:50am - 12:20pm

Session Chair: Simon Usherwood, University of Surrey
Location: Room 12.02

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Negotiating Article 50

Chair(s): Simon Usherwood (University of Surrey, United Kingdom)

As Article 50 draws to a close, public and academic attention has begun to move on the next stage of the Brexit process. However, the mechanics of Article 50 negotiations warrant much attention, both for what they have to say about EU-UK relations and for what they tell us about the processes and structures involved in the EU's management of negotiations with other parties. This panel brings together members of the ESRC-funded "Negotiating Brexit" project to reflect on the experience of assorted actors within Article 50, considering both their internal processes of preference formation and their activities within the structures established for the negotiations. The papers all stress the interconnectedness of the specific discussions with other interests and factors, highlighting the contingency of Brexit within the EU and the asymmetry of the process between the UK and others.

***The panel will use a non-standard format, with paper presenters recording full presentations beforehand for others to watch before/after the session itself (see links in the paper abstracts and on YouTube tagged "Negotiating Brexit Lisbon"). In the panel itself, each presenter will limit themselves to very brief presentations, to leave more time for discussion and debate.***


Presentations of the Symposium


Outsourcing Brexit: Member governments and the Article 50 Task Force

Simon Usherwood1, Hussein Kassin2
1University of Surrey, 2University of East Anglia

The creation of the Article 50 Task Force to manage the EU side of Article 50 negotiations with the UK is notable not only for its high public and political profile, but also for the way in which it has challenged conventional models of agency organisation. While the Task Force has been informed by the Commission’s extensive experience in third-state negotiations, it has also developed a very distinctive model of operation, characterised by high levels of input with key stakeholders – other EU bodies, member state governments, economic and social interests – as well as a relatively high level of autonomy. Drawing on elite interviews in the Task Force, EU institutions and national delegations, this article argues that the apparent success of this model is driven by three key factors: an initial framing of Brexit as an existential threat to European integration that encouraged a unified approach; a mixed pattern of issue salience for member states, and; a tightly-drawn remit for the Task Force that minimised the overlap with other bodies. As well as providing an example of effective delegation and design, the experience of the Task Force underlines the extent to which EU institutions are willing and able to adapt to circumstance, and more broadly the value of institutionalist – and specifically, principal-agent -- theorising.

Watch the presentation:


Brexit – A Crisis Which De-politicized the EU: A Case of Brexit and Czech Politics

Petr Kaniok
Masryk University

EU multiple crisis has in recent years led to visible politicization of the European integration across EU Member states. It has been widely accepted that events as the Eurozone crisis, refugee crisis or Brexit contributed to the increased contestation of the EU at domestic level, often questioning value of European integration or EU membership as such. However, not each crisis has to have such effect and their impact vary. Particularly Brexit whose impact was believed to possibly trigger domino effect represents in this sense unique case and outside the EU has so far had rather de-politicized influence. The questions is why. Analyzing Czech Republic´s activities in Brexit negotiations, this paper argues that if certain structural conditions and factors are met, even issues with great potential to politicize the EU as Brexit can be downplayed and turned into de-politicized agenda.

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Polish Perceptions of Brexit: Domestic Politics and the Perspectives on the Future of Europe

Natasza Styczyńska
Jagiellonian University

Although not widely discussed, Brexit is playing important role in the polish debate on Europe. This paper will focus on analysing the preference formation by studying main actors, issues and augments present on the political arena after 2016. Rights of the Polish diaspora in the United Kingdom, EU budget, Single market and Security are among the most prominent issues for the Polish government, still the way negotiations are conducted is not explained to the public opinion. As the research demonstrates, the process of preference formation in CEE is often ad hoc, depending on the actual political context and political parties and interest groups are not paying a significant role in it. Although political parties in Poland do not pay much attention to negotiations itself, Brexit has a symbolic meaning and is utilised in the intraparty competition. In the media and public discourse, negotiations are overshadowed by the domestic issues (deep polarisation of the political arena, local elections, dispute with EC). For governing Law and Justice Party Brexit is a symbol of ineffective EU, being in a desperate need for reform and slowing down of the political integration. For the opposition parties, Brexit serves as a warning of what can happen when the nationalistic and populist trends prevail in the society. This domestic context turns the discussion about Brexit also into a discussion about the future of Europe and Polish role in transforming EU.

Watch the presentation:

The European Commission's Leadership and the Solution to Citizens’ Rights in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement

Nieves Perez-Solorzano1, Stijn Smismans2

1University of Bristol, United Kingdom; 2Cardiff University, United Kingdom

In a letter of March 2018 to the then Brexit Secretary, the Chairman of the Lords’ EU Committee warned the British government that if it did not set out its stall early, the Commission would dictate the terms of the negotiations. Formally, the European Commission’s role in the Brexit process is to negotiate the withdrawal on the UK on behalf of the member state and on the basis of a mandate defined by the European Council. In practice, Commission has drafted the Withdrawal Agreement governing the UK’s exit from the EU and the member states have ratified it with minimal changes to the text. This contribution analyses the role of the European Commission in negotiating, on behalf the EU27, an agreed solution to EU citizens living in the UK, and UK citizens residing in the EU. Drawing on extensive empirical material the analysis concludes that the European Commission has effectively deployed the formal and informal resources at its disposal to exercise its functions as negotiator, and thus has been able to shape the agenda and exercise considerable influence in the solution to citizens’ rights post-Brexit. The article suggest that the Commission is not in decline, and that Brexit and the negotiation of a future relationship between the UK and the EU post-Brexit have offered the EU’s executive a window of opportunity to strengthen its position.

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