Review of the monograph

by A.V. Grubinko, A. Yu. Martynov

“The European Union after BREXIT: a continuation of history”

(Ternopil – Kyiv, 2021. 258 p.).

Oleh Mashevskyi

Dr. habil. (History), Professor,

Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukraine


Abstract. The authors of the monograph focused on the scientific analysis of an actual scientific and applied topic, which concerns the problem of adaptation of the European Union to the new conditions that have emerged since the UK left the EU. It is symbolic that this process coincided with the crisis of the globalization process due to the pandemic and its challenges to international security. The modern European Union is both an international and a state-like entity, which combines the features of at least three state unions: an international intergovernmental organization, a confederation and a federation. This not only determines the complexity of the subject of study, but also its inconsistency. In conditions of radical social change, it is always difficult to track and adequately analyze them. This titanic task is further complicated by the presence of an in-house methodological crisis in the family of social sciences. Therefore, given all these objective difficulties, we can only welcome attempts to find a new theoretical and methodological synthesis, which should help society to understand the essence of historical time and act in it as rationally and efficiently as possible.

The pages of the monograph raise questions about the heuristic potential of the study of the problem of European historical experience; in addition, significant attention is paid to the coverage of a systematic approach to the social vector of European policy. It also addresses the issue of solving key social problems that stand in the way of qualitative deepening of European integration while maintaining the basic guidelines of social market economy. Among these issues, the authors highlight and analyze the most important aspects, which relate primarily to overcoming poverty and combating unemployment.

The monograph outlines the range of methodological problems of transformational historical period, involved in its study synthesizing approach, which consists in the use of historical, socio-philosophical, economic, political science, legal approaches. This approach allows to restore the synthesis of scientific knowledge, which is often disrupted not only by the tendency to specialized fragmentation of complex objects of study, but also allows to take into account the specifics of the transitional historical period.

In a geographical sense, not all European regions are equally developed, due to their different economic specialization, which has developed as a result of the historical division of labor. Eventually, there is a tendency to shifting responsibility for solving the problems of poor regions to themselves. The same German experience with the unification of East and West of the country has shown that even huge investments in infrastructure development, introduction of new technologies, efforts to increase productivity – all this together do not solve quickly enough the problem of social convergence. The leveling of the social space of richer and poorer federal states is rather slow. Last but not least, these problems became a good reason for the Great Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

The issue of the monograph is of practical importance for the foreign policy of Ukraine. After all, the European Union is an important neighbor, trade and political partner of Ukraine and accession to it is actually declared as a prototype of a strategic national idea. The European project is essentially postmodern, as it seeks to overcome the modernism with which nationalism is associated and to reach a level of tolerant agreement of different national interests. The intensification of the globalization process has prompted integration structures to perform functions that limit national sovereignty. Historiographical discourse of common foreign and defense policy of European Union proves that this strategic course of European integration depends on the ability of elites and peoples of Europe to find a common European identity and organize around it the process of determining the place and role of the European Union in the modern system of international relations. This process in the distant historical perspective remains an open possibility with an unguaranteed positive or negative result.

Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, which was unexpected for many researchers of European integration, matured gradually. The authors of the peer-reviewed monograph list the main trends that influenced this decision. First of all, we are talking about the unregulated EU development strategy, the fate of the common European currency, the imperfection of the system of decision-making in the field of common foreign and security policy, which led to an ineffective EU response to Russian and Chinese autocratic challenges. Despite the objective problems associated with mutual adaptation of old and new EU member states, the European integration project continues to be seen as the key to addressing the challenges of modern life and finding answers to the challenges of globalization. In particular, in the final sixth chapter, the author focuses on the theoretical, methodological and practical analysis of the problem of democracy.

The authors of the monograph are looking for an answer to the question of what the European Union will be like after the exit of Great Britain. No less important is the question of whether Britain will become a “global” Britain after leaving the European Union. Of course, Britain is concerned about turning the EU into a superpower that has not only its own flag, anthem, currency, but also the germ of a common European army and tries to pursue a common foreign and defense policy. London advocates stronger resistance from China and ousting Russia from Europe. Changing regional influences in the EU may create a new structure of conflict of interest not only for individual countries but also for various regional groups. The issue of a clear division of powers between supranational and national authorities at all levels seems ripe. More adequate to this trend will be not so much a more centralized federalist Europe as a decentralized confederative one. By the way, the model of the latter looks more open for further expansion. This work is imbued with the spirit of realistic Europeanism. Therefore, not least because of this, the peer-reviewed monograph will become a notable phenomenon in domestic European studies.

Key words: European Union, Great Britain, Brexit, European integration, historiographical discourse, globalization.

Submitted: 22.04.2021

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