With or without you? Policy impact and networks in the Council of the EU after Brexit

Huhe, Narisong and Naurin, Daniel and Thomson, Robert (2017) With or without you? Policy impact and networks in the Council of the EU after Brexit. Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies, Stockholm. (http://www.sieps.se/en/publications/2017/with-or-w...)

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Brexit is likely to be a major chapter in the history of European integration. Clearly, the most important consequences will concern the UK itself, but losing one of its largest members is also a momentous occasion for the EU. What will it mean for the negotiations and outcomes of the intergovernmental Council of the EU – and for the relative influence between the remaining member states – whether the UK is in or out? This analysis shows that the policy impact of Brexit is likely to be relatively modest. The findings indicate that some of the remaining member states will be more negatively affected than others, in terms of policy impact and network centrality during the negotiations in the Council of the EU. In particular, some smaller and medium sized Northern European states – Sweden, Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands – confront the toughest challenges with respect to defending their influence in the Council. These are the states with the closest network ties to the UK, and with the most similar policy positions. If (or when) the UK leaves, these states will need to increase their efforts in forming alliances with other member states, in order to defend their (often) liberal positions against pressure for higher subsidies and more regulations of the common market. The network positions of the remaining larger member states, on the other hand, and in particular France, Germany and Poland, are likely to be enhanced by Brexit.