The International Relations of English Local Authorities in the Shadow of Brexit

Carlo Panara, Michael Varney

This paper seeks to examine the international relations of English local authorities as Brexit approaches. We have previously argued that through their representative offices in Brussels, English local authorities pursue what we have previously described as a mini foreign policy. As Brexit approaches, the interface between the local authorities and the EU via offices in Brussels may reduce in importance, but it will likely be necessary for the authorities to retain some capacity for lobbying at the EU level and also to participate in other policy networks at the international level.We will consider the possible changes to the legal and constitutional position of local authorities in England as the process of legal and constitutional reform to deliver Brexit develops. Brexit and withdrawal from the EU has the potential to reduce the powers and influence of local authorities in a number of respects, given that local authorities play an important role in the implementation of many aspects of EU law and policy. We will argue that in this time of legal and constitutional reform, local authorities are likely to retain powers similar to those that they presently enjoy and may see some expansion. As such, they will need to retain international influence and representation. We will analyse the ways in which authorities can retain influence in relevant policy spaces and the legal powers which may allow them to do so.

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