How the EU got Brexit done: in conversation with Stefaan De Rynck

Posted on: 26 January 2023

Three years after the UK officially left the EU, what can be learned by looking back at the Brexit negotiation process, and how has it impacted on the relationship between the EU and the UK? 

On January 31, the Trinity Long Room Hub will host a panel discussion with Stefaan De Rynck, Senior Advisor to the EU's Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier (October 2016 until March 2021). De Rynck had a front row seat throughout the negotiations. In his new book, Inside the Deal: How The EU Got Brexit Done, he provides a frank and uncompromising account of how the EU reached a deal with the UK. This event provides an opportunity to discover more about his insights on the Brexit negotiations, in conversation with a panel of experts, and reflections on the implications for the future of the EU-UK relationship. 


Stefaan De Rynck is a Visiting Professor at the Public Governance Institute of KU Leuven, and served as Senior Advisor to the EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator throughout the Brexit negotiations.

"As negotiators, our task was to defend EU interests. Protecting the integrity of the single market was part of that. Some in the UK accused the EU of punishing the UK, but they seem to have misunderstood the essence of Brexit, which was to lose EU membership benefits," De Rynck said. "We negotiated on behalf of all member states, big or small. That's why a deal was only possible on the condition that Ireland agreed."

Bill Emmott is the Chair of the Trinity Long Room Hub and former Editor-in-Chief of The Economist from 1993-2006. Emmott is a self-described “Brexile” living in Ireland, and his latest book, ‘Japan’s Far More Female Future’, analyses the economic impact of the growing number of females in higher education in Japan.

Professor Gail McElroy is the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Trinity.

Dr Etain Tannam is an Associate Professor in International Peace Studies at Trinity. Her main area of expertise is Irish/Northern cross-border cooperation and British-Irish intergovernmental/diplomatic cooperation, with emphasis on Brexit's impact. She is currently writing a book on British-Irish Relations in the 21st Century.

“Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol have had a dramatic effect on relations on the island of Ireland and within Britain for over 6 years,” Dr Tannam says. “In this first hand account by Stefaan De Rynck, we hear the inside story of the negotiations from Michel Barnier’s close aide."

Further information here

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