Internal Enlargement in the European Union: Beyond Legalism and Political Expediency
Carlos Closa (ed) Troubled Membership in the European Union (CUP, 2016), Forthcoming
Europa Working Paper No 2015/05
19 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2015
Date Written: October 19, 2015
The argument of this paper proceeds in three stages. It begins by criticizing the tendency in recent debates on sub-state nationalism in Europe to avoid the deeper questions of political morality concerning the entitlement (or otherwise) of these sub-state nations that are separating from existing Member States to assume membership of the European Union. It then raises these deeper questions, and argues, against Joseph Weiler in particular, that the correct attitude for the EU to take is one of considered neutrality rather than strong endorsement either of the case for accession or of the case against accession by new internal states. In the final part of the argument what role, if any, the EU has to play in the absence of such a directorial mandate, is examined. A more modest procedural role is then considered, and dismissed as unlikely though attractive. In conclusion, it is argued that the EU nonetheless influences the debate over the sovereign aspirations of sub-state nations simply by existing, and thereby changing the balance of political incentives in a way that is more accommodating of forms of autonomy short of independence.
Keywords: EU, Member State, Scotland, Catalonia, subsidiarity, enlargement, secession, dissolution, regionalism, independence, sovereignty, nationalism, sub-state nation, autonomy
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