Comparing the Practice of Accession to and Withdrawal from the European Union: Commonalities in Principles and Procedures?

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Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. The “principles” common to admission to and withdrawal from the European Union. – II.1. The principle of democracy. – II.2. The respect for the acquis communautaire. – II.3. The principle of good neighbourliness. – III. The emergence of integovernmentalism in the admission and withdrawal procedures. – III.1. The interplay between law and practice. – III.2. The role of the EU political institutions. – III.3. The application of conditionality. – IV. Making intergovernmentalism prevail over supranationalism.

Abstract: This Article assesses the practice of withdrawal in the light of the practice of admission and highlights the numerous commonalities between the two practices. The analysis shows that most of the principles underlying the accession conditions underpin the exit from the EU, contributing to the enhancement of the values on which the EU legal system is rooted. Moreover, the techniques Member States make recourse to during the admission procedure, to strengthen their control over membership, were also used in Brexit, fostering intergovernmentalism in the process of European integration.

Keywords: accession to the EU – withdrawal from the EU – Brexit – Copenhagen criteria – supranationalism – intergovernmentalism.

European Papers, Vol. 7, 2021, No 1, pp. 439-464
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/567

* Associate Professor of European Union Law, LUMSA Department of Law Palermo,


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