The question of European ‘disintegration’ is drawing an increasing amount of scholarly attention. In light of Brexit, this is no surprise. Yet the seeming focus on proposing comprehensive theories at this point seems premature. The Brexit process is very much still in the making and it will be some time before the dust settles, leaving room for comprehensive analysis. Fortunately, there might be quite a few empirical puzzles already out there that can help lay the groundwork for future theories of disintegration. In this commentary, I argue that the emerging literature on disintegration would do well to consider the insights of New Institutionalist literature to investigate these. Tried and tested rational choice, sociological and historical institutionalist lenses can have a lot to say. After all, disintegration is a form of institutional change. Directing attention towards less glamorous but, all the same, interesting institutional changes manifesting signs of disintegration can steer the disintegration literature towards more deductive research designs. This commentary illustrates the point through an example from the Union’s Common Commercial Policy, suggesting some possible further avenues of research.
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