Proposal for a special issue on: The causes and consequences of European (dis)integration

By Martijn Huysmans (Utrecht University) and Sven Van Kerckhoven (Vesalius College and Institute for European Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

The 2016 decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union has shed a new light on the process of European integration. Up until this decision, the European Union had only grown in terms of member states, and the continuing process of deeper integration over several decades resulted in among others the establishment of a single market. This special issue explores a different angle, by focussing on the causes and consequences of European (dis)integration from a multi-disciplinary social science perspective. Integration processes result from a (critical) reflection on and assessment of the benefits (due to more efficiency and economics of scale) and the costs (different policy preferences are no longer possible) of moving to a higher governance level. So far, attempting to raise efficiency and attaining economics of scale within the European Union has favoured integration. However, in recent years, populist and nationalist movements have questioned the size of these efficiency gains, while being very outspoken about the costs in terms of a loss of autonomy in policy decisions.

A multidisciplinary social science enquiry into the drivers and outcomes of European disintegration is currently still missing. This special issue seeks to provide answers to questions related to: the input dimension (what drives disintegration) and the output (what are the consequences of disintegration) of the European political system.

Potential questions to be addressed are:

  • What have been the economic consequences of secession from federal countries and how relevant is such a benchmark for the EU?
  • How can the drivers towards disintegration be assessed?
  • How will value chains and imports and exports be affected as a function of potential UK and EU trade deals?
  • How could Article 50 be reformed?
  • What kind of sticks and carrots does the EU have to guarantee the rule of law in its member states, and can these be substitutes for the lack of an expulsion mechanism?
  • How do voters weigh the economic costs of leaving the EU compared to non-economic themes of identity, sovereignty and migration?
  • Does Brexit impact the ambitions of potential further membership applications?
  • Can opt-out mechanisms allow for a different type of integration, or deter further succession pressures?
  • Can disintegration result in more integration?

Thinking about these questions is especially relevant right now in light of a potential conference on the future of Europe, and the likely ongoing challenges of the EU’s future relationship with the UK, and the internal and external pressures of Euroscepticism and migration.

Accepted abstracts will be included in a proposal for a special issue to be submitted to a leading journal in European studies. Thanks to Jean Monnet Funding for the Module ‘The Economics of European (Dis)Integration‘ (599986-EPP-1-2018-1-BE-EPPJMO-MODULE), a workshop will be organized to which contributors to the special issue will be invited. Format and timing will be communicated shortly after the selection of abstracts.

Deadline for abstract submission is 15 December 2020. Abstracts (preferably with a short bio of max. two sentences) can be submitted to

Download a call for a special issue on ‘The causes and consequences of European (dis)integration’