The European summit: a critical space for the development of British-Irish intergovernmentalism

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The European summit is where the national representatives of European Union (EU) member states have their say on policy issues. It has also been posited, however, that its ‘margins’ are advantageous to the achievement of bilateral as well as EU consensus. This article uses the British-Irish relationship and the insights of British and Irish elite interviewees like Bertie Ahern, Sir John Holmes and Lord Robin Butler to demonstrate this function. Using a novel intergovernmental lens, it shows that not only was the European summit beneficial to this relationship but also it was integral to its transformation, in addition to the key 1985–1998 negotiation phases. The article is relevant to the Brexit context, substantiating the view that it will cause a deficit in the British-Irish relationship. It also serves as a basis for expanded study of the European summit space, and its dynamic contribution to strengthened relationships amongst EU member states.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalJCMS Journal of Common Market Studies
Early online date07 Dec 2022
Publication statusEarly online date - 07 Dec 2022


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