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Brexit, Discrimination and EU (Legal) Tools

Ahmed, T. ORCID: 0000-0002-4990-5631 (2019). Brexit, Discrimination and EU (Legal) Tools. European Law Review, 44(4), pp. 515-531.


The European Union (EU) is premised upon a project of inclusion: in this regard, it commits itself and its Member States to the acceptance and tolerance of all members of the Union and their citizens and residents. The UK’s Brexit saga eclipsed these ambitions, and highlighted an increasingly vivid anti-immigrant atmosphere. Brexit brought to the fore not only acts of discrimination against EU citizens and others seen to be outsiders in the UK, but also emphasised the existence of strong underlying sentiments of discrimination against them. The intensification of such sentiments surrounded the eventual 2016 referendum vote in favour of leaving the EU, and this arguably demonstrates the significance of (failing in) addressing such sentiments. This in turn raises questions relating to the suitability of the EU’s choice of tools for addressing discrimination. There has been a mismatch between the tools adopted and the types of discrimination prevalent in the UK. EU legal tools of anti-discrimination and equality focus primarily on tackling visible individual “acts” of discrimination, leaving almost untouched concerns of underlying “sentiments” of discrimination. This is a result not only of weaknesses in the legal tools themselves, but on an over-reliance on them, arguably to the neglect of embracing non-legal initiatives as a means of addressing underlying societal sentiments. While the example of the UK and Brexit is used in this article, discrimination of this nature is a Europe-wide concern.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in European Law Review following peer review. The definitive published version Ahmed, T. (2019). Brexit, Discrimination and EU (Legal) Tools. European Law Review, 44(4), pp. 515-531 is available online on Westlaw UK or from Thomson Reuters DocDel service .
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
K Law
Departments: The City Law School > Academic Programmes
The City Law School > International Law and Affairs Group
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