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European Union and Brexit


The process of the EU that started with European Coal and Steel Community has expand to European Economic Community and has become the final version European Union based on with economic, politic and cultural integrations in 1 Novermber 1993 through Treaty of Maastricht. The organization which started six founder states (Belgium, France, Federal Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands) throughout this process consists of 28 member states. The European Union’s aim that provide peace,enhance respect of human dignity, freedom and democracy values,  increase economic and social cohesion between member states. In the international system, the European Union is considered one of the most successful transnational organizations as an actor. How accurate is this approach in realpolitik? Nowadays, The EU is facing a major problem. Britain which is one of its the most important members, decided to leave EU the according to  result of referandum in 2016. Why did decide to leave just Britain trough all members? This article is about the problems experienced during the Britain’s membership to the EU and its reasons for exist.

Key Words: Britain, European Union,Brexit,Theresa May

1. The Dilemma Between National Sovereignty and Eu

In 1960, Britain became a member of the European Free Trade Association( EFTA) as a country which did not favor the EU’s membership.[1] One of the most important reasons for Britain to avoid being a member of the European Union is the country’s long history of national sovereignty, in particular Parliament’s emphasis on sovereignty and fears that it might lose.[2] This fear of Britain is not unfair.In today’s international system, states are obliged to act in line with the decisions of international institutions, organizations or alliances where they have been involved in many times, or to support the policies of the states in which they are allied with, although they do not want to.[3] Especially this situation is the most valid condition in EU.The transfer of sovereignty powers to the Communities through the Treaties of the European Communities in certain areas or the recognition of the exercise of their sovereignty powers in certain areas of the European Communities is related to the fact that the laws of the European Communities are directly applicable in certain cases by the member states in national law.[4] The member states which are part of the Communities by reflecting their will are obliged to comply with the Founding Treaties of the European Communities and adopted to the values ​​and norms by the competent bodies of the Communities.In this sense, as Reçber stated;  as far as communities are concerned, the use of legislative and judicial powers of the Communities and the exercise of their competence in the areas where the specific structure of the European Communities law is authorized, is of paramount importance in national law, in certain cases, as a direct result.[5]In this way EU has created a supranational law.In order to be integrated in the EU, countries have to make changes in their constitutions during application or after membership, (free movement permits such as property, person, capital or competition changes in areas such as agricultural trade and energy).This situation is a problem for countries such as England, which wants to be a member of the EU, but which, on the other hand, is based on strict policies about internal sovereignty.

2. Britain as a Member of EU

After World War II, Winston Churchill’s statement which is ‘we are with Europe, but we are not a part of it’ explain the process of leading to Brexit.[6]Britain witnessed the collapse of the old European system in the Cold War system.While avoiding membership in the EU Britain has changed policy towards the EU as a results of the influences of France and Germany on the continent, the lack of support from the United States and the decline in political weight such as Suez Crisis and applied European Economic Community and in 1973 Britain became a memberof EEC.Real problems have  emerged after membership process.The membership of Britain was made possible by the adoption of the 1972 European Communities Act. According to this regulation EU law has been superior to British law (supremacy).Thus, EU law may have an impact on the national law of the United Kingdom. In terms of EU law sources, for example, EU treaties or regulations will be implemented in the United Kingdom without further action by the Britain Parliament.[7]At the same time, Britain was the only country to hold its membership in a referendum shortly after accession in 1975, with the referendum in the EEC, which was first established in British history.[8]Specifically, the problems between the two sides, such as the fact that Britain did not participate in the Eurozone or joining the Common Agricultural Policy during the Thatcher period, and especially still producing pro-US-policy are in fact the signals of Brexit.Especially in the period of Margaret Thatcher, the concept of European scepticism has emerged.The meaning of this concept can be defined as an attitude against EU membership and integration both economically and politically. In this period, Thatcher perceived this close cooperation of Germany and France as a stance to reduce the impact of Britain.The Delors Report, which was prepared as a result of the emergence of common market formation and monetary union ideas, presents the idea of ​​the formation of a European Central Bank which could impose economic coordination between countries and restrict national budget management. At that time,Thatcher-era Industry and Trade Minister Nicholas Ridley said Germany used the monetary union as a tool to control the whole of Europe and resigned. Thatcher, acting in this direction, saw Sterlin as the most powerful means of expression of sovereignty and tended to reject the unity of money.[9]Generally, it can be said that Thatcher’s policy consists of an opinion against the European Community’s ideas of being federalism and instead pursues a pro-US policy.As regards security, Great Britain has been suspicious of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), which began with the Amsterdam Treaty.ESDP has also demonstrated the difference in security understanding between Britain and France and Germany.The Britain opposed that  the idea of Germany which was thought about security as a regional in the context of EU and thought of France which exclude NATO’s security concept in Europe at the same time US’ security concept. It was followed by EU-compatible policies, especially after the disagreements with the United States. In general, it can be said that the period of the workers’ party was more coherent but nevertheless the European scepticism did not completely disappear.In other words, it is possible to say that both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party underline the importance of globalization. Those who came to power from both parties argued that the EU should reform itself and should focus on climate change, global poverty and energy security.After the Thatcher period, the most important breaking point in terms of relations was the period of David Cameron who took office in 2010.

He voiced the problems of the Euro and stated that the EU is losing its competitive power and accountability and touch on to the deficits of democracy. He underlined that these points seriously damaged the relations between the EU and Britain.

As a result, because of Britain’s act different from Europe mostly, developments in Britain’s internal politics, and economic concerns, Cameron has announced that he is considering taking the referendum on Britain’s membership if he wins the elections. It is also possible to say that Cameron’s attitude was a reaction to the increasingly powerful German leadership in the EU and to deepening federalism. As a result, Cameron, after the Conservative Party won the general elections in May 2015, Britain went to referendum for EU membership again.

3. Britain-Exit

In the referendum held on June 23, 2016, the people of the Britain declared their preference to leave the EU with 51.9%. The Britain was the first country to enter the EU.Cameron has stated that he will resign as Prime Minister of the Britain since 2010. After the Brexit, serious fluctuations occurred in the country’s economy,although Britain was the fifth largest economy in the world and the second largest economy in Europe, but with the referendum, Brexit had a negative impact on pound in the short term. The British pound fell to the 31-year low against the US Dollar and fell 7.2% against the Euro. In the last 30 years, the Pound has seen the lowest value, while the share price of the Britain’s 250 companies has depreciated by approximately 25 billion pounds in one day. (3 times the net contribution of the Britain to the EU budget).[10]

After Cameron’s resignation, Theresa May as the Prime Minister in July 2016 was elected as Prime Minister and while she was trying to keep her country and party together during the Brexit negotiations, she also undertook the task of managing a negotiation process with uncertain economic,social and political consequences.In particular, the rights of citizenship rights (residence rights, education) from the EU, economic issues (investment, work, etc.) and the Northern Ireland border issue which  are the most important problems those that play a leading role in the negotiations.Since the beginning of the government, May has not been able to adopt the proposals of the House of Commons with the EU and many ministers in the government have resigned.Altough the EU continued to prolong the period; she failed to persuade even the MPs in her party and  because of the Conservative and Labor party dispute in the British parliament she announced that she would leave her office as prime minister on 7 June.


To sum up, Britain has had problems with the right to sovereignty over many issues during its membership with EU. Britain did not want to compromise its sovereignty over economic issues, and it has pursued more pro-US policies on security, and as a result did not fully integrate into the EU.However, it wants to continuefrom the its benefits provided by the EU, after the Brexit which means that leaving to EU. Britain does not want to lose its interests. However, after the decision to leave Britain was affected politically and economically.Scotland, which is part of the kingdom and wants to stay for EU membership, after Brexit, it has announced that they will go to a referendum to leave the unity.On the other hand,Brexit supporters, who carried out propaganda until the referendum,  politicians resigned following the process and caused the Conservative Party to lose votes.France and Germany argued that Brexit would not be a big loss for EU and they would go further with reforms. They thought that with Britain’s exit, their hegemonies in unity would increase and at the same time in other member states which there were some ideas for exit they were seen that ‘Leave from EU’ is not easy.

As this case shows us, nation states prioritize their own interests and may have problems in areas restricting their sovereignty or, as Germany and France do, use the organization which established for ‘liberal’ purposes as a tool for their own interests.As we see, Britain and also Theresa May have a big internal problem both politically and economically.May cannot continue this process and she resigned her office and so nobody knows what will happen next days about Brexit or how will continue process of Brexit at the Britain-side?



Aras İlhan, GünarAltuğ, BirleşikKrallık’ınAvrupaBirliği’ndenAyrılmaReferandumu: Brexit SüreciveSonuçları Marmara ÜniversitesiSiyasalBilimlerDergisiCilt 6, Sayı 2, Eylül 2018.

Der. Ayhan Kaya, SenemAydın, DüzgitYaprakGürsoy,ÖzgeOnursalBeşgül,AvrupaBirliğineGiriş İstanbul Bilgi ÜniversitesiYayınları 3. Baskı2016 .

ÖzdalBarış ,AvrupaBirliğiSiyasi Bir CüceAskeri Bir SolucanMı? Dora Yayıncılık 2013 KaracanPınar, Brexit: AvrupaBirliğiHukukuveBirleşikKrallıkAçısından ‘BuzdağınınGörünenYüzü’  DokuzEylülÜniversitesiSosyalBilimlerEnstitüsüDergisiCilt: 19, Sayı:3 2017.

DidemSaygın, MehlikaÖzlemUltan, EkonomiveSiyasetBağlamındaİngiltere-AvrupaBirliğiİlişkileri:  Tarihsel Bir Analiz,GüvenlikStratejileriDergisiCilt 12 ,Sayı 23 , Ocak 2016 .


[1]EFTA wasestablishedbythe Stockholm Convention, signed in January 1960. Members of theFederationwasAustria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, andthe United Kingdom.

[2]Der.Ayhan Kaya, Senem Aydın,Düzgit Yaprak Gürsoy,Özge Onursal Beşgül,Avrupa Birliğine Giriş İstanbul Bilgi Üniversitesi Yayınları,2016 pp.44-45

[3]Barış Özdal,Avrupa Birliği Siyasi Bir Cüce Askeri Bir Solucan Mı?, Dora Yayıncılık 2013 p.26

[4]Ibid., p. 32

[5]Ibid., p.38

[6]İlhan Aras, Altuğ Günar Birleşik Krallık’ın Avrupa Birliği’nden Ayrılma Referandumu: Brexit Süreci ve Sonuçları, Marmara Üniversitesi Siyasal Bilimler Dergisi  Cilt 6, Sayı 2, Eylül 2018,p.93

[7] Pınar Karacan, BREXIT: AVRUPA BİRLİĞİ HUKUKU VE BİRLEŞİK KRALLIK AÇISINDAN ‘BUZDAĞININ GÖRÜNEN YÜZÜ’  Dokuz Eylül Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Dergisi Cilt: 19, Sayı: 3, Yıl: 2017, pp. 403-416

[8]Aras,Günar ibid.,p.93

[9]Didem SAYGIN, Mehlika Özlem ULTAN, Ekonomi ve Siyaset Bağlamında İngiltere-Avrupa Birliği İlişkileri: Tarihsel Bir Analiz,Güvenlik Stratejileri Dergisi Cilt 12 , Sayı 23 , Oca 2016 ,p.78

[10]Aras,Günar ibid., p.96