Will they miss us? The EU without the UK

Undergraduate Research Scholarship project 2020

Birmingham Law School

Project academic: Professor Anthony Arnull

Project summary

This project focuses on two questions raised by the departure of the UK from the EU.

First, what effect did UK accession in 1973 have on the Court of Justice? The UK is a major common law jurisdiction, while all existing Member States belonged to the civilian tradition. Did this cause tension or a sense of anticipation? Now the UK is leaving, will the presence of smaller common law Member States be enough to maintain a common law influence on the Court?

Secondly, has the UK’s departure been managed effectively? Article 50 TEU provides the template, but it has been for politicians to work out the practical implications. Once the UK had triggered Article 50, was the response of the EU-27 appropriate? Should they have been more willing to adapt to the idea of a Member State leaving?

What you will do 

  • Look at selected cases for evidence of a common law influence on the Court
  • Identify any specific principles of EU law that may be said to have common law origins.
  • Examine the publications of British members of the Court for evidence of their overall approach to their judicial task.
  • Analyse the EU-27’s approach to Brexit.
  • Identify examples of intransigence that may have hindered the search for agreement.

Skills required 

  • The scholarship holder will have an interest in and basic knowledge of the EU and its legal system and the relationship between the EU and the UK.
  • They will be able to locate and work with primary materials and have the communication skills necessary to summarise and discuss their findings, both orally and in writing.
  • They will be comfortable working alone and be willing to make suggestions and contribute insights.
  • They will need to be self-starting, enthusiastic, well-organised and good at lateral thinking. 

How will the project benefit you?

The scholarship holder will

  • Learn how to locate, sift and work with primary materials
  • Develop their communication skills, both orally and in writing
  • Develop their capacity to analyse material, take a personal view and defend it against criticism
  • Develop their capacity to summarise material accurately
  • Develop their capacity for independent thought


Where now?


Professional Services