Accession, Withdrawal and Suspension of Membership in the European Union

Slobodan Zečević ORCID logo

Published on 1 December 2023

АBSTRACT: The participation of countries in the European Union (EU) has evolved over time. Carried away by the federal elan, numerous scholars considered membership in the European Communities (EC) to be final, believing that there would be no secession because the institutional system of the EC and EU contains federal elements. Integration has gone too far for secession to be profitable and rational. After all, for many years, only new countries were accepted, and not a single member state left the European Communities and the Union. After the unification of Germany, the confederal view gradually prevailed in the economically and demographically strongest member state. The European Union is an alliance of independent states, which retain their sovereignty and right to self-determination. This was confirmed by the Treaty of Lisbon (2009). The founding treaty was officially amended to include a provision on the right to withdraw from the European Union. Democracy certainly reigns supreme in the European Union because secessionism is allowed. The EU is not a prison, there is a way out. Should a member state violate fundamental European values, a temporary suspension of membership becomes an option provided for practical reasons. Has the existence of the European Union then become a relative or transient matter?

KEY WORDS: European Union, federalism, EU accession, secessionism, suspension of membership.