Brexit: Britain and EU CFSP under the light of Neofunctionalist Constructivism

Document Type : Original Article from Result of Thesis


1 PhD Student in International Relations, Department of International Relations, Faculty of Law, Theology and Political Science, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran.

2 Professor of Political Science Department of Political Science, Faculty of Economic and Political Science and , Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran.

3 Associate Professor, Department of International Relations, Faculty of Theology, Law and Political Science, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Iran, Tehran and, Associate Member, Center for Iranian Studies, SOAS,

4 Associate Professor of International Relations, Department of International Relations, Faculty of Law, Theology and Political Science, Science and Research Branch, Tehran, Iran


The British hegemony and its isolationist policies have been in constant conflict with integration within the EU and its monopoly of adopting political strategies holds opposing views towards the common European foreign and security policy. The focal query of the present study is how to turn to constructivism as post-neo-functionalism and other dominant theories of international relations. Did Brexit address a common European defense and security policy through these two interconnected theories? Regarding the significance of functional and structural pressures within the EU, the assessment of neo-functionalism and its common foreign security policy in the context of politicization dynamics is that this exit strategy may lead to be popularized among other parts of the EU. In the interim, the drawback of the neo-functionalist theory is to pay no heed to of the role and function of governments such as Britain in political convergence and its determinism in underestimating variables and factors outside Europe and trans-European actors in the CFSP. Briefly stated, what neo-functionalist constructivism has to embark upon its theoretical analysis is to mull over the crucial role of national governments and independent decision-making influence of national elites such as the British government in terms of an independent policy, explicitly as the Brexit referendum.



The threshold of international relations and political science is thoroughly enriched with a variety of profound theories, not all could find the grounds for discussion here. The main theoretical framework of the present study is based on the theory of neo-functional constructivism mainly modifying hypothesis relevant to integration theory and other theories as the mainstream literature.

Brexit is a crucial issue in British politics, at first glance it seems that the decisions and policies adopted in this field are subject to great changes in the economy, politics, society and even culture, but an intricate dialectic is underway to manipulate the endless flow of schemes and policy-making in the field of Brexit, as if an avalanche of unanticipated events in the field of politics and society has targeted Brexit. Applying theoretical approaches, according to Dr. Tim Oliver (Oliver, 2017, p.1), head of research team on Brexit analysis, an optimal realization of Brexit can be achieved. Considering the ambiguous problem of Brexit, the irreplaceable role of theory as a beacon is vital to clarify what is on track, in order that it may untie the knot.

In terms of coherence and integrity, neo-functionalists also recognize perversion and oversight in social systems. Neo-functionalism by maintaining mutual relations and the concept of balance and accepting Parsons's emphasis on personality, culture and social system considers the interpretation of individuals and parties of these value systems such as Brexit as a source of tensions that are a constant source of change.

  Neo-functionalism deals with the processes of differentiation within the social, cultural and social systems of Britain and the European Union. The new functionalism reflects the differences between British culture and society and the European Union, and in this regard emphasizes the change, control and differentiation between them. From this perspective, the study of Brexit as a set of interconnected events that affect and influence many political, cultural, and social frameworks is possible in neo-functionalist frameworks; The interaction between subsystems and social subsystems in the Brexit transition process can be explained by the interrelationship between functionalist subsystems. At the same time, the impact of the international meta-system on sub-systems also provides significant possibilities in this framework based on the notions of functionalism based on action and reference to the practical effects of events. Needless to say, the study of the EU as a whole is coherent and composed of sub-systems at a general level. A phenomenal analysis such as Brexit and an examination of the union's approaches and reactions to the event will be enlightening.


Theorizing Brexit in the Post-Neofunctional Framework of the Constructivism

The focus of this research finds strong acoustical articulation in the framework of constructivism. Through an abstruse reasoning, Constructivists address interpersonal beliefs widely shared among the individuals of the world while regard national identities as social constructs, assuming that interests and identities of human beings are molded by the same shared beliefs as they perceive themselves in relationships with others. The interests and identities of governments are not determined from the outset, but they are socially structured. Under an accustomed lucidity, the normative influence of fundamental institutional structures and the relationship between normative transformations and the identity and interests of the state are generated with an accustomed lucidity.

Admittedly, the world without identity is the wild world as that of primeval chaos, howling and unknown, far cry from being in a feverish bewilderment, even more treacherous than the state of chaos. It is through the identity that a state constantly perceives others based on the identity it ascribes to them, while at the same time reproducing its own identity through daily hassles of social actions. In any case, the final style guru of meaning is the interpersonal structure. According to constructivist analysis, Britain, as an actor and member of the European Union, as its influence and power increase in the form of Brexit within the EU; this intermittent threat is considered as an intersubjective structure rather than a material structure. In other words, such a perception is built within the labyrinth of mindsets by the European Union, as a minatory shadow menacing EU.

 Brexit inquiry as a ray of British foreign policy under the light of constructivist ideologies as stated by Nicholas Ounf (Kubalkova, 2001, 77) is based on the prevalent discourse anchored in the individual intentions of the British agents regarding the referendum to remain or leave without EU participation as others.  Hence, these expressions, under the sway of arbitrary opinions, adopted by agents, give meaning to policies. Verbal communications lead to abysmal restrictions and normative consequences and raise expectations in others. Analysis of strategic interaction, threat survey, and agents' obligations to commitments are all perceived in terms of behavioral actions. Agreements, like Britain's withdrawal from the EU, are a kind of strategic interaction that is generalized to acts of mutual commitment.

The mainstream of political statements is vague, deceptive and fabricated, which can be a kind of distraction for observers. From Meehan’s point of view, "political statements" are more than politics and have to be regarded as a sort of political action, for policies are tools for emerging action (Meehan, 1971: 269). Observers analyze agents' verbal actions with their inferences from political statements.

According to Meehan (1971: 268), politics is an essential tool for rational choice in certain circumstances - all the actions of British agents are derived from conscious comparisons of possible alternative outcomes founded on criteria or principles. Observers in the European Union would reach a consensus on possible Brexit policies as a strategic guide.

From Schilling's point of view, agents' movements are "events" (like the Brexit referendum). Movements serve the intentions of agents by articulating their policies and reflecting their commitments. Simultaneously, movements are also considered as politics. By implicit pre-commitment, agents create commitments through actions.

According to Nicholas Raw (1982: 23), an agent who rationally pursues a rule acts as if he has already based his actions on pre-commitments.


Brexit: The common foreign and security policy of the EU and the UK from the perspective of Neo-functional constructivism

Theories of regional convergence include neo-functionalists who attribute the formation and evolution of a common European foreign and security policy to the internal dynamics and mechanisms of European convergence and the internal relations of the European regional system. The assumptions of these two mingled theories on ideas and values (Sangiovanni, 2006:440) include the dynamics of expansion and politicization and the role of transnational and transnational actors such as interest groups and political parties. In explaining this, economic convergence due to expansionist logic will lead to political convergence. In other words, the internal dynamics of the European Economic Community in the field of cooperation in the field of foreign and security policy are also current. (Sjursen, 1999: 15)



Research findings of this current study is that the evaluation and perception of neo-functionalism in the importance of functional and structural pressures within the EU and its common foreign security policy in the context of expansionist and politicized dynamics is that this exit strategy may lead to spread to other parts of the EU. .

By adopting a descriptive design, neo-functionalism considers society to be composed of elements that interact with each other and together form a model that allows the social system to be distinguished from its environment. This pattern may be reminiscent of the Brexit referendum, and in the EU the members of the EU interact and interact closely, but their actions are not determined by a dominant force. New functionalism is a general picture of the relationship between components and social elements and views British society as a system consisting of factors that separate forms of interaction from the elements of the external environment and present them in two forms: open and closed; the effect of a kind of unilateral coercion that could prevail here on behalf of the EU for Brexit and the exit vote.

Neo-functionalism devotes more or less the same aspect to order and action and avoids the mere emphasis of structural functionalism on order. It has an even broader conception of actions, and in addition to sensible actions, it also considers pretend actions. Therefore, the Brexit referendum based on the new functionalism also relies on action. The Brexit referendum is recognized in the social system from the perspective of the European Union. Neo-functionalism is a descriptive description of interrelationships and considers the concept of equilibrium as the culmination of departure: A balance that includes Britain's conditional withdrawal, along with negotiations with the EU on specific issues of engagement and cooperation.



Main Subjects

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