In December 2015, Danish voters decided in a referendum to uphold the country's full opt-out agreement on justice and home affairs in the European Union. Six months later, British voters voted to leave the EU altogether, one identified reason being the Union's developing federal character. The two cases are not unique: A growing number of member states are reacting to a more constraining EU by negotiating similar types of opt-outs and flexible integration.
While it is often assumed that states opt out of the EU to preserve their national sovereignty, and that this limits the European integration process as such, Adler-Nissen turns this argument on its head. She argues instead that opt-outs may actually serve to reinforce the European integration process.
Rebecca Adler-Nissen is a Professor in Political Science and International Relations at the University of Copenhagen. Her research focuses on International Relations (IR) theory, diplomacy, sovereignty and European integration as well as fieldwork, participant observation and anthropological methods in IR. Among her many publications is the prize-winning book Opting Out of the European Union (Cambridge University Press, 2014).
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