This day conference is staged as part of a partnership with Warsaw University Faculty of Law & Administration by Queen's University Belfast School of Law through its Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence "Tensions at the Fringes - Regaining the Union' Purpose" (TREUP).
Fifteen months after a referendum on the UK's continued EU membership resulted in a slim majority for "leaving" the EU, some details of the substantive changes for the EU and the UK may emerge.
The proverbial silver lining around the dark cloud hanging over the EU and the UK may appear, as the EU will debate how to improve. Since the rejection of the majority of English and Welsh voters (which outbalanced pro-Remain majorities in Gibraltar, Northern Ireland and Scotland) was triggered by socio-economic disintegration, which was ascribed to free movement of persons and Eurozone governance, the necessity of invigorating socio-economic integration at EU levels will be reinforced. Without the EU's most reluctant member, closer cooperation in fields such as supervising the financial sector, fair mobility of persons, environmental policy and a social seal for Economic and Monetary Union may become more tangible. Negative aspects of the UK's withdrawal may derive from the specific influence of the UK as well as from changes in the EU's geography. Citizens of post-2004 Member States will recall that the UK, next to Sweden and Ireland, honoured the promise of free movement of persons across borders immediately after the first and largest wave of the EU's enlargement. Ironically, it is the UK which now promotes limits to free movement, and intends to abandon the principle of equal treatment of those moving for work. Further the UK is perceives as promoter of market liberalism and integration at a considered pace by some. The redrawing of the EU's geographical boundaries will impact in specific ways on the island of Ireland, which may become divided by a new external border of the EU.
Because the European Union remains a "Community of Law", the resolution of these conundrums will require expertise in European Union and International Law. The close link between legal, political and socio-economic (dis)integration inspires a socio-legal enquiry of substantive proposals on how to change the EU.