Brexit and EU Citizenship: The Construction of European Solidarity in Germany Following the UK Referendum

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Humanities LT G255 (University of Glasgow)
Charlotte Galpin , Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, University of Copenhagen
The ‘Leave’ vote in the UK referendum on EU membership shocked the continent. Already beset by a number of crises, EU leaders quickly moved into crisis management mode. The first priority for the EU was to maintain unity amongst the remaining member states. Discussion immediately turned to ‘solidarity between the EU27’ and the need to ensure the UK left the EU as quickly as possible. Through political claims-making analysis of public sphere debates, using Germany as a case study on account of the important role it will play in Brexit negotiations, this paper will analyse elite actor claims about European solidarity in the months following the referendum.
           While intended to assuage uncertainty and prevent contagion, these moves raise fundamental questions about European solidarity and EU citizenship at this unprecedented time. In legal terms, EU citizenship is derived from national citizenship. The EU has, however, stated that EU citizenship is a tool for the development of European identity. In practice, many British EU citizens have taken advantage of these rights and become reliant on freedom of movement and the principle of non-discrimination. Until the UK formally leaves, it remains a full member of the EU. This paper therefore examines the public opinions about Brexit made by EU actors in Germany and, by analysing actor frames, identify models of European solidarity constructed in the Brexit debate. Are there public expressions of solidarity with British EU citizens as Europeans? Alternatively, are conceptions of European solidarity limited to the EU27?