In September 2017, when we took over the position of editors for the JCMS Annual Review, we came in with a vision to address the challenges facing the discipline of EU studies more broadly.
2017 was certainly an eventful year on all aspects of politics, economics and society and represented a critical moment for all of us studying the EU and its politics. This juncture is both exciting and equally daunting in EU history, not least because of the complexity of global challenges, be those addressed at the national, European or transnational levels. One of those grand challenges is precisely the outcome of the process of the departure of the UK from the European Union, following the 2016 EU Referendum.
To solve that puzzle, we invited Prof. Simon Hix (LSE) to deliver the JCMS Annual Review Lecture, addressing the state of play of the UK-EU relations post-Brexit. Prof. Hix was on board immediately and delivered a very engaging lecture at Portcullis House, in the heart of Westminster, where the majority of debates around Brexit take place. The lecture was a public event, attracting audience from all walks of life including practitioners, academics, students and engaged citizens.
In his lecture, which is published as a contribution to the JCMS Annual Review, Prof. Hix addressed the key positions of the UK and the EU in the negotiations one year into the process. Following a game theoretical process of ranking the outcomes of the type of relationship between the UK and the EU, Prof. Hix argued that the basic outcomes have been well-known in terms of a ‘soft’ or a ‘hard’ form of Brexit or a ‘no deal’ outcome. The UK has started to explore the possibilities of a ‘Canada plus plus plus’ agreement and this is certainly reflected in the way that negotiations have proceeded.
Having solved the bargaining game, Prof. Hix concludes that the likely deal between the UK and the EU27 will have the form of a a basic free trade agreement, mainly covering trade in goods with not much on trade in services. Certainly, current events at Chequers confirmed Prof. Hix’s position. In his words, “a basic free trade agreement would not be the end of the process.” The UK will have to negotiate additional agreements with the EU, occasions which are likely to be highly-salient events in domestic politics.
If the UK has to repeatedly fold in its position, then the EU will acquire an even more negative image in the UK, which will make opposition to closer cooperation much stronger. Prof. Hix concluded that in that case, the UK may be stuck with that basic free trade deal for a long time.
- Read the lecture here.
- Listen to an interview with Simon Hix about the lecture here.
- Listen to a recording of the lecture here.
Dr. Theofanis Exadaktylos
Prof. Roberta Guerrina
Dr. Emanuele Massetti
Co-editors, JCMS Annual Review
University of Surrey