More European after Brexit? The impact of the UK’s Leave vote on the European identity of the remaining Member States

Lara Breitmoser

Duodecim Astra, Issue 1, 2021, pp. 55 – 78

Author description

About the author: Lara Breitmoser is a Master’s student in International Relations at the Central European University in Vienna. She has previously studied Political Science at LMU Munich and spent a term abroad at the University of New South Wales in Australia. Her research interests lie mainly in international cooperation and organisations, with a particular focus on the European Union and the United Nations. Lara is the co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of the Young Journal of European Affairs, a student journal based in Munich.


The outcome of the Brexit referendum shocked not only Britain but also the remaining EU Member States. Even before the referendum, the future of the Union was unclear in so far as the convergence of the different Member States and the existence of a European identity was doubted. The question persists whether such a feeling of belonging to Europe, if it even exists, can persist under such challenging circumstances or whether the critical situation indeed inspires European cohesion. To address the gap in the literature, this paper analyses to what extent the Brexit referendum has affected the European identity in the remaining EU Member States. The paper argues that the feeling of being European has increased in the other Member States since the referendum as the self-perception of the states is endangered by Brexit. Therefore, the ideational cohesion strengthens in such an important turning point, which also reflects in the remaining citizens’ identity. Statistical methods such as a t-test, linear regression, and descriptive analysis of Standard Eurobarometer data are used to verify this hypothesis. The results of the assessment demonstrate an increase in the number of people admitting to having a European identity before and after the Brexit referendum while findings are less clear for people reporting a more national identity.


Keywords: Brexit, European identity, European integration, European Union, identity change

Full article: More European after Brexit? The impact of the UK’s Leave vote on the European identity of the remaining Member States

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