‘They Need Us More Than We Need Them’: British Exceptionalism, Brexit, and Justice and Home Affairs

Christian Kaunert, Alex Mackenzie, Sarah Leonard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This article analyses the EU-UK Future Relationship negotiations on Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) through the lenses of ‘exceptionalism’. This concept refers to a given state’s self-understanding as being not only fundamentally different from other states, but also morally superior. In its exemptionalist variant, exceptionalism also calls attention to the belief that one is entitled to exemptions from ordinary rules. This article argues that, whilst exemptionalist exceptionalism can be said to characterise the UK’s position in relation to European integration in general, it has been particularly pronounced in the JHA policy area. This is shown through an analysis of the various exemptions from ordinary rules and arrangements obtained by the UK over the years. The existence of those also demonstrates a broad acceptance by the rest of the EU of this self-perception of the UK as being an exceptional state. Furthermore, this article shows that, perhaps unsurprisingly, the UK government has retained this stance in the Future Relationship negotiations with the EU. It has set its expectations of negotiating agreements with the EU that would set it apart from all the other partners of the EU. It has attempted to justify such an exceptional treatment on the basis of the remarkable quality of the contribution that it has been able to make to EU internal security as encapsulated in the idea that ‘the EU needs us more than we need them’. However, recent developments suggest that the EU is no longer as favourably disposed to grant exceptional treatment to the UK in the field of JHA now than it was when the UK was a Member State.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-588
JournalEuropean Foreign Affairs Review
Volume25
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2020

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of '‘They Need Us More Than We Need Them’: British Exceptionalism, Brexit, and Justice and Home Affairs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this