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Was Brexit a Form of Secession?

Frantziou, E. (2022) 'Was Brexit a Form of Secession?', Global Policy, 13 (S2). pp. 69-78.


As a form of legal separation taking place within a quasi-federal framework, Brexit displayed important conceptual similarities with secession, in that it was predicated upon notions of collective identity and aspirations of renewed self-government. This article examines the interrelationship between Brexit, secession as a legal concept, and secessionism as a political phenomenon. It advances two main arguments: at a first stage, it highlights that while Brexit ideologically aligns with secessionism, it could not have met any sustained international law definition of secession itself. However, the constitutional constraint to the European Union's formal status as an association of states (Staatenverbund) as opposed to a federation (Staatsverband) has rendered its withdrawal provision (Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU)) unduly impervious to the important practical parallels between the Brexit process and decisional, that is, negotiated, forms of secession. The article goes on to argue that an active recognition of aspects of decisional secession within the EU constitutional framework could have allowed for a more complex and dialogical resolution of Brexit than the conditions set up by the unilateral withdrawal clause allowed.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Special Issue: Brexit – Past, Present and Future
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0.
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Publisher statement:This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.© 2022 The Authors.
Date accepted:07 May 2021
Date deposited:28 June 2022
Date of first online publication:29 April 2022
Date first made open access:28 June 2022

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