After the Brexit vote and with rising calls for a fundamental reform of the European Union, studying EU law has become even more relevant and exciting.
The outcome of the EU referendum in the UK has more than ever brought the influence of EU law on national law to the attention of a broader public. The precise consequences of a possible Brexit for the UK, the EU and the world are still uncertain and time will be needed to agree upon and implement legal changes.
What is certain is that both the Brexit vote in the UK and the Dutch referendum on the EU association agreement with Ukraine demonstrate that expertise in EU law is ever more relevant and necessary to understand current affairs. An informed opinion on the possibilities and the consequences of certain political choices, e.g. of a country withdrawing from the EU, requires first of all an understanding of the existing legal framework.
Furthermore, the possible withdrawal of the UK will in no way affect the relevance of EU law in other EU states. Whatever happens next in response to the popular vote for Brexit, the UK will not immediately cease to be a member of the EU. There will be a period (probably several years) of negotiation, during which the UK will remain a full member of the EU. During that period, UK citizens will continue to enjoy all rights from their EU citizenship. Hence at present and for the coming academic years UK students enjoy the same privileges as all other EU students in Amsterdam.
Only after a withdrawal of the UK from the EU will the situation change. Much depends on the relationship between the EU and the UK after Brexit. The core question is: How close will this relationship be? Different options are possible, but the parameters are clear. The closer this relationship is economically, the more EU rules the UK must accept.
It is fair to say that now is a particularly exciting time to study EU law and that the demand for EU law experts will only increase. Experts are needed to help adapt law to politics and to determine what politics cannot do. In addition, the external consequences of a potential Brexit, e.g. what is necessary to rearrange the UK’s economic and political relationship with the rest of the world, only emphasise the importance of studying EU law within a broader international context.
This is precisely what we offer to our students in the tracks ‘European Union Law’ and ‘European Competition Law and Regulation’ that form part of the LLM programme in International and European Law at the University of Amsterdam.