Research Groups

Brexit Means Brexit Means What? 

 February 16, 2017 - by George Ross, Jean-Monnet Chair ad personam, Université de Montréal

Brexit began with UK PM David Cameron’s flawed strategy to keep Eurosceptics under control by calling the June, 2016 national referendum whose results cost Cameron his job. What soon  followed showed, in Jeremy Kinsman’s words, that the Brexiters were « …the dog that caught the bus : they hadn’t thought what to do next. » The absence of plans was evident in new PM Teresa May’s puzzling announcement that « Brexit means Brexit. »

There followed months of confusion. May appointed three leading Brexiters (including Boris Johnson, who had proposed that the UK could « …have its cake and eat it too») to top Brexit jobs, in part to keep them inside the government tent, but without knowing what they were to do. The new situation also disorganized the British civil service. Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty had to be invoked to negotiate « leaving », but excepting those ready to jump over the Brexit cliff without knowing where they would land, leaving remained to be defined. Among the options were staying in the EU single market without a voice in EU affairs, staying in the EU customs union but jettisoning EU laws, regulations, and practices, « cherry picking » desirable parts of the EU  (protecting the City of London and EU research and development, among others), or cutting EU ties and « going global. » Some even thought that people would return to their senses and overrule the referendum results.

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Description/ Members

Canada and the EU wish to increase their cooperation as well as international significance. In forging a strong foreign policy relationship, Canada must take into account that for external relations; EU decision-making can be highly complicated differing significantly from traditional nation-states. From the EU-side, Canada must not be neglected due to its small population and proximity to the U.S. Thus far, the two parties have achieved some highly positive results in their international cooperation including: international conflict management; the reinforcement of international law; promotion of human rights; and promoting multilateral or international regimes to address global security concerns. For more information please visit the Research Cluster Description on the Strategic Knowledge Cluster Canada-Europe Transatlantic Dialogue website.

The activities of the EU and Canada as Global Actors Cluster members are lead by Dr. Frederic Merand (Université de Montréal) and Dr. Ruben Zaiotti (Dalhousie University)


Description / Members

This thematic area covers a wide range of issues wherein the primary focus will be the study of, and interrelation of, immigration/multiculturalism and social policy. Both Canada and the EU face challenges relating to social exclusion, integration and marginalization amongst immigrants and youth. The research group aims to disseminate Canada's approaches towards multicultural, citizenship, and immigration policies in order to provide Europeans with nuanced insights for incorporating immigrant groups into society. Additionally, this thematic area encompasses issues relating to recognition, shifting demographic and economic inclusion patterns, as well as the welfare state.

The activities of the Immigration and Social Policy Cluster members are lead by Dr. Oliver Schmidtke (University of Victoria, Immigration). 

Description/ Members

Through the combination of expertise on economic and monetary integration and legal expertise, this theme focuses on mutually reinforcing Canada-EU economic engagements. While Canada is represented in all international economic institutions, it is more a policy-taker than a policy-maker in global economic affairs. The EU, in contrast, is considered the global pace-setter in the field of regional economic integration. In light of challenges such as the financial crisis, but also Canada-EU free-trade negotiations, this thematic area will continue to be highly important. Areas of interest may include: monetary and currency fluctuations; the EU's internal economic system; and Canada's potential economic influence on its European partners.For more information go to For more information please visit the Research Cluster Description on the Strategic Knowledge Cluster Canada-Europe Transatlantic Dialogue website.

The activities of the Economic Cooperation and Competition Cluster members are lead by Dr. Kurt Huebner (University of British Columbia, economics aspect) and Dr. Armand de Mestral (McGill University, legal aspect)

Description/ Members

This thematic group explores increasingly important challenges for advanced democracies. Both Canada and the EU face common challenges to the functioning of their federal democratic systems that include: declining democratic participation (or falling voter turnout), deteriorating political legitimacy, improving government accountability and responsiveness, and ameliorating multi-level governance. Canada and the EU are therefore natural partners who can increase their cooperation in the area of democratic deficits and successful policy coordination in order to encourage popular democratic engagement and participation amongst their citizens.  For more information please visit the Research Cluster Description on the Strategic Knowledge Cluster Canada-Europe Transatlantic Dialogue website.

The activities of the Democratic Deficits and Policy Coordination in Multi-Level Systems Cluster members are lead by Dr. Joan DeBardeleben (Carleton University, democracy aspect) and Dr. Amy Verdun (University of Victoria, governance aspect)