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Withdrawal and Expulsion from the EU and EMU: Some Reflections

Phoebus Athanassiou

European Central Bank (ECB) - Directorate General Legal Services

December 18, 2009

ECB Legal Working Paper No. 10

This paper examines the issues of secession and expulsion from the European Union (EU) and Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). It concludes that negotiated withdrawal from the EU would not be legally impossible even prior to the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, and that unilateral withdrawal would undoubtedly be legally controversial; that, while permissible, a recently enacted exit clause is, prima facie, not in harmony with the rationale of the European unification project and is otherwise problematic, mainly from a legal perspective; that a Member State’s exit from EMU, without a parallel withdrawal from the EU, would be legally inconceivable; and that, while perhaps feasible through indirect means, a Member State’s expulsion from the EU or EMU, would be legally next to impossible. This paper concludes with a reminder that while, institutionally, a Member State’s membership of the euro area would not survive the discontinuation of its membership of the EU, the same need not be true of the former Member State’s use of the euro.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 50

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Date posted: December 21, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Athanassiou, Phoebus, Withdrawal and Expulsion from the EU and EMU: Some Reflections (December 18, 2009). ECB Legal Working Paper No. 10. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1517760

Contact Information

Phoebus Athanassiou (Contact Author)
European Central Bank (ECB) - Directorate General Legal Services ( email )
Kaiserstrasse 29
D-60311 Frankfurt am Main

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