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Out and In: Internal Enlargement, Secession and Membership in the EU

Open Panel

Abstract

Different stateless nations in Europe are currently calling for full independence. The peoples aspiring to the full realization of their national personality within the framework of the European Union want to do so without abandoning the common project of European construction. However, the process of European integration has added extra complexity to achieving one’s own state in the European context. Therefore, one has to consider how to make access to national independence compatible with the new state arising from the process continuing to belong to the European Union. This communication aims at determining the range of replies that the European Union could give to a process of secession or dissolution of a member state, if the new state should show its wish to succeed its predecessor as a member state of the Union. The analysis of the legal system applicable to a situation of substitution in the exercise of territorial sovereignty of a member state of the European Union in relation to the consideration as a member of the predecessor, and of the new resulting states, requires the legal regulations applicable to the specific case to be previously identified. The communication starts from the permanence of the bond between the new state and the Union, considering that the democratic decision that must be at the origin of independence is expression of the will to constitute a state within the European Union. Therefore, in accordance with respect for democratic principle, which reports the political personality of the Union from the Preamble of the Treaty of the European Union, and respect for the citizens of the new member state as citizens of the Union, the communication defines the membership conditions for the new state. From the perspective of Public International Law, we are faced by a case of substitution of one member state for another in the responsibility for the international relations of a territory, traditionally known as the succession of states. However, when identifying the applicable regulations in this specific case, it is important to remember the singularity of the European construction process materialized mainly through the EU, a singularity meaning that a process of secession or dissolution in one member state may be considered a process of internal enlargement of the EU, occurring within its borders. The communication thus argues that separating from a member state does not mean separating from the EU, but should rather be understood as a firm will to maintain the commitment with the federal pact. In conclusion, it is argued that the values and principles of the European Union cover access to a new state without waiving the European construction project.