The importance of health security in post-Brexit EU–UK relations


This article examines the possibilities for negotiating the UK–EU health-security relationship after 2020. Health security, in the sense of measures to prevent and mitigate health emergencies, had played a marginal role in the UK–EU negotiations, but COVID-19 has greatly amplified this policy area’s significance. At the beginning of the pandemic, Brussels introduced significant measures to promote public health sovereignty, notably joint procurement and stockpiling of personal protective equipment. The UK went against the grain by limiting its involvement in joint procurement at a time when other countries were rushing to participate. UK participation in some EU health measures is possible on existing terms, but not joint procurement. This leaves the UK facing an uncertain future because of the potential risks associated with not participating in EU programmes, notably in terms of access to personal protective equipment supplies and possible market distortion resulting from new EU policies promoting stockpiling and reshoring. The politicisation of health security thus adds another complication to the post-Brexit EU–UK relationship.

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Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Politics, History and International Relations
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Uncontrolled Keywords: Brexit,health security,COVID-19,health sovereignty,stockpiling
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Related URLs: https://journal ... 781685820964291 (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2020-10-11
Published Online Date: 2020-10-11
Accepted Date: 2020-09-25
Authors: Glencross, Andrew (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-8320-9181)



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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