The UK’s EU membership, which started in 1973 and ended in 2020, drew the attention of the whole world to the future steps and strategies to be followed by the UK with the announcement of Brexit. The end of the membership relationship between the EU and the UK has raised questions about how such areas as commercial relations, immigration policies, and security will work. Both during the Brexit process and after, the risks and dangers that the EU and the UK may encounter, especially the relationship of the UK with individual EU member states and the UK’s position in international relations, will be the subject of long negotiations. Thanks to Free Trade Agreement, trade relations between parties have not been severed. Nevertheless, the UK no longer has a say in the European Parliament, i.e., in the EU decision-making process, and the UK is now arguably alone vis-à-vis threats to its border security, internal security, and transnational security, and will no longer benefit from institutions such as Frontex, Europol, and Eurodac. For its part, the EU will no longer be able to benefit from the UK’s intelligence, political power, access to criminal data, economic goods, etc. Most studies on this topic to date have focused on the relationship between the parties, and not specifically on internal security matters. Consequently, Brexit and Internal Security: Political and Legal Concerns on the Future UK-EU Relationship makes a significant contribution to the literature.
The book starts with a brief introduction that contains a summary of the security issues raised by the Brexit process and outlines the objectives and structure of the articles. The authors strongly highlight that the book has three main objectives: to provide an overview of the risks and opportunities in the field of security that are occurring and may occur, to clarify the ongoing discussions, and finally, to explain how security policies will be implemented in the future EU-UK relationship. With contributions from experts from different countries, Brexit and Internal Security brings together a wealth of useful information to help foresee various future legal and political concerns. Throughout, the authors analyze UK-EU relations in a unique way, comparing and contrasting examples from before and after Brexit, to elucidate current and future possibilities.
The book is comprised of two main sections and nine chapters. The first section mostly deals with the UK-EU security relationship in the past and the present, while the second part focuses more on the future internal security concerns of both parties. Chapter 1, the introduction, provides an outline for footsteps to understanding the other parts of the book in a contextual manner. Chapter 2 addresses the history of UK-EU relations, while Chapter 3 explores Brexit’s future implications with regard to internal security for both sides. Chapter 4 situates the UK’s departure in a wider context. In Chapter 5, transitional arrangements and disputes over Brexit are described. Chapters 6, 7, and 8 are not written by the main authors of the book, but by other experts who precisely layout the future possibilities that may unfold between the UK and the EU. Their contributions facilitate an understanding of all aspects of the Brexit process in a very detailed way. In these chapters, the ways in which the potential threats and opportunities that may occur post-Brexit could shape European and UK politics in the future are explored. Chapter 9 provides a conclusion and a general summary of all the chapters one by one.
Brexit and Internal Security has both negative and positive aspects that must be noted. First, the book contains too many repetitions, as in Chapters 3 and 4, which both address the consequences of Brexit. Also, the sections are not exactly distinguishable, in spite of the division of the book into two main sections. Thus, it is not possible to make a sharp distinction in the chapters’ transition and content. The objectives of the book, which are processed on top of each other, are arranged in an unnecessarily complex order. For example, Chapters 6 and 7 both discuss the security, police, and judicial issues raised by Brexit; Chapter 3 mention future possibilities while Chapter 4 returns to current issues and then again skips ahead to future matters. With that said, the authors do accomplish all the objectives laid out in the book, and the individual articles in the book are well-written. Last but not least, Brexit and Internal Security, which is a very rich book in terms of resources, references many print documents, and host many online, archival, and report resources. However, the majority of the resources depend on reports, news, and interviews published by the EU.
Though the book was written in 2019, it is surprisingly prescient in its predictions and the concerns it raises for the future, together with the impacts of today’s pandemic process. As MacKenzie notes that, “[T]he real danger is that Brexit may damage co-operation by reducing trust and opening up grey areas, thereby blinding both sides to threats” (p. 101). Today, the Northern Ireland crisis and the vaccine crisis between the UK and the EU have shaken the parties’ trust in each other. Thus, the UK, which is looking for a reliable partner to maintain its effectiveness on the international stage, could increase the severity of existing tensions with the EU by cooperating with countries such as China and Russia. Also, the UK could sign bilateral agreements with EU member states, therefore, the decision-making process in some key points in the EU could slow down, or be blocked. In a nutshell, the book is remarkable in identifying the challenges that must be addressed with negotiations in order to ensure the security of both parties.
In conclusion, Brexit and Internal Security is a comprehensive and objective analysis that fills the gaps in security matters of Brexit. The issues addressed in the book pave the way to make reliable hypotheses that will be of use to persons tackling future problems. It is an excellent resource for scholars of Political Science and International Relations, particularly Security Studies, and any readers interested in the EU, Brexit, and security.