Citizenship and Democracy in Post-Brexit Europe

Panel Code
Closed Panel

Brexit epitomizes some of the features of the new nationalism, in terms of its avowed anti-elitism and with regard to the onus on reinstating national control. In this panel, we focus on the implications of Brexit for citizens’ ability to exercise democratic control. Modern democracies are institutionally hard-wired to enable citizens to shape government policy. This hard-wiring can be captured with reference to the notion of citizenship regime. A citizenship regime is composed of those institutional arrangements that spell out who the members are, the rights they hold, the channels they have for political participation, and the nature and scope of public action (the realm of issues that are subject to government action). These arrangements are socially embedded in the sense that they are profoundly shaped (and shape) cleavage formations and social patterns of support and contestation.
Each state or political system consists of one or several citizenship regimes, and these vary considerably across Europe’s states, embedded as they are in distinct cleavage formations and patterns of social opposition. The development of the European Union has led to a multi-pronged composite of citizenship regimes, which is anchored at European, national and regional levels. This multilevel system fragments and or reconfigures national modes of citizenship. In this context, the scope of governing is important, as is well reflected in the central role of the four freedoms that form the core of the EU’s single market program. This is readily apparent in the question of the Irish backstop.
The UK has become heavily Europeanized. The Brexit mantra of taking back control implies reconfiguring the current British citizenship regime. That this will be a complex process is already apparent in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. In order to understand what that might imply post-Brexit, we need to understand the measures that the UK is taking to reverse its EU encoding; we need to clarify the extent to which the EU holds the levers of control of the various aspects involved; and we need to understand societal dynamics across Europe.