Health Governance after Brexit: Law, Language and Legitimacy
1University of Sheffield, United Kingdom; 2Queens University Belfast
The ‘battle bus’ symbolises the importance of the NHS to the Brexit debate. Evidence suggests that the lie that leaving the EU would mean more NHS resource was one critical component of the referendum result. What happens with health governance will thus be a key determinant of the (perceived) legitimacy of post-Brexit futures.
We already know (including through work undertaken in the UK in a Changing Europe project ES/R002053/1, PI McHale) that all forms of Brexit are harmful, overall, for health. Indeed, the geographical areas of the UK that will be worst affected also correlate closely with those that have the worst health indicators: Brexit will exacerbate health inequalities. Perceptions that ‘others’ are ‘taking up space in GP surgeries/hospitals’ stand in stark contra-distinction to statistical evidence that EEA-nationals in UK hospitals and surgeries are more likely to be providing health care than receiving it. In short, people who thought a Leave vote would mean better health care are going to be disappointed.
How can we make sense of this disconnect between ‘elite’ / expert and other understandings of the significance of Brexit for health and its governance in a post-Brexit United Kingdom? This paper will report on the early findings from the ESRC Governance after Brexit project ES/S00730X/1. It explores the interlocked phenomena outlined above: a set of ‘elite’ understandings of the roles of EU law and policy in health governance that sit very uneasily with at least some perceptions ‘on the street’. Our project takes both established legal and socio-legal methods (doctrinal analysis of novel legal texts and elite interviews in London, Belfast and Dublin), and highly novel ethnographic methods (in particular, street conversations in towns in Northern England and Northern Ireland), and seeks to compare the data generated through each, in order to understand the nature and scale of legitimacy gaps. It does so through centring language, and particularly metaphorical language, as an important indicator of framings, which themselves elucidate notions of legitimacy and accountability.
The Financial Accountability of Withdrawal: Brexit and beyond
University of Deusto, Spain
The financial and budgetary implications of withdrawal from international organizations are often disregarded before more pressing priorities shaping mutual relations. However, stricking a balance between allowing a member state to leave the organization when it so wishes and ensuring the financial sustainability of the latter may prove difficult. When the constituent documents of the organization do not arrange the settlement of mutual financial claims, this is achieved through package deal negotiations eventually enshrined in withdrawal agreement. This research-in-progress advances the legal and political implications of the various scenarios as regards financial liabilities. Although the focus is set primarily on Brexit, comparative approach is offered on the budgetary implications of past or ongoing withdrawals occurred in other international organizations (eg Unesco, OAS).
Potential No Deal scenarios raise the key concern of the status of budget liabilities. This issue presents complex legal and political ramifications. Brexit has offered an opportunity to legal scholars to discuss whether financial liabilities roll over in case of No Deal. Despite the lack of full agreement as to the substance of respective claims, experts seem to agree that judicial redress may prove difficult, given the constrains of international jurisdiction in this regard. From a political perspective, such situation creates opportunities to reorientate national priorities. It may also prove challenging for beneficiaries of EU funds in the framework of the remaining Multiannual Financial Framework, just as for the government, who committed in written to ensuring the financial sustainability of EU-funded projects in the UK up to end 2020, and must now match such engagement with concrete steps.
The role of financial accountability watchdogs before, during, and after withdrawal is also examined. These organs bear a key responsibility in reporting accurately the assets and liabilities of the organization to the decision-making bodies, in view of a fair financial settlement. Moreover, involving audit organs in the implementation stage of the financial settlement may require adjustments in their tasks and investigative powers. In the framework of Brexit, the Report jointly presented by the negotiation teams at the end of the first phase of the withdrawal negotiations charged the European Court of Auditors with the task to ensure the financial accountability of the financial settlement between the UK and the EU. Drawing on official documents and interviews with the relevant stakeholders, the paper presents the adaptation measures taken by the European Court of Auditors to carry out its new tasks.