Brexit and the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement in comparison: EU principles and practices of governing the neighbourhood


JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY EUROPEAN STUDIES, vol.31, no.3, pp.944-959, 2023 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 31 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/14782804.2022.2106950
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, Historical Abstracts, Humanities Abstracts, Linguistics & Language Behavior Abstracts, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, Political Science Complete, Public Affairs Index, Sociological abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.944-959
  • Keywords: Brexit negotiations, British exceptionalism, EU-UK TCA, trade-regulatory-governance nexus, principles of EU-neighbourhood relations, GOVERNANCE
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Brexit is the recent example of British exceptionalism, namely, accommodating the UK's special position in the EU through differential membership, albeit from outside. UK negotiators initially demanded a 'bespoke' agreement for retaining most benefits of membership with limited obligations. Faced with an EU united around a set of negotiating guidelines, the UK opted for a distant and looser future relationship. Indeed, Brexit negotiations and the EU-UK TCA highlight core principles of EU external relations. Despite being an agreement of international law, principles of integrity, autonomy, and balance of rights and obligations shaped the content of the TCA. UK is now a third country with no special rights or privileges but a European neighbour. Assuming that Brexit is a unique case of managing relations with an ex-member but a comparable one in wider Europe, this article explores whether or not the TCA amounts to less than a neighborhood association more than a standard FTA? TCA has similarities of principles underpinning EU's neighbourhood agreements but its novel and bespoke features set it apart. The challenge is whether the UK will be able to upgrade its future relationship to 'deep integration through association' with new trade-offs between rights and obligations.