The right of secession in the European Union: Thoughts on the Referendum in Scotland

On September 23rd INCIPE organized a breakfast conference titled, The right of secession in European Union: Thoughts on the Referendum in Scotland. The conference benefited from a presentation by Manuel Medina, professor of International Law and International Relations at the University of Alcalá de Henares in Madrid, and former member of the European parliament.

Manuel Medina, who recently published the book The right of Secession in the European Union, defined the European Union as “28 states navigating together and relying on each other.” The state is a fundamental element of the EU, and one of the main contributions to the political culture; the structure has been so successful that it has remained for almost 200 years. The concept of the state represents a rational construction of society, in contrast to the nation, which signifies a feeling but has in definition been disputed since the French Revolution. The relationship between state and nation in the middle of the 20th century would produce a “revolutionary cocktail” and thus, the nation needed to gain prominence in order to build a stronger Europe.

The 28 member states of the EU are the links that make the chain; the strength is dependent on the integration of the state institutions. Thus, the consequences of a member state or a part of a member state would be detrimental to the process of integration. In the treaties of the Union there is no regulation regarding specifically the right to secede since it is considered a question of International Law and constitutional legislation of every member state. However, to become a member of the EU an entry process is necessary, which would not give the seceding part the inherent ability into the EU. Both the European Parliament and Commission rejected the right of membership to seceded parts.

Of course if the Scottish referendum were to be passed, it would no longer be a member state of the EU. This is because of many reasons. Countries such as Slovakia, Greece, Spain, and Cyprus would be against it’s incorporation into the EU since they face similar processes taking place on their borders and would be able to set a precedent for future cases. In addition, many member states have raised the issue that if it was integrated into the EU it would require aid. If the EU is based on surmounting nationalism, the process of secession will represent an attack directly against the EU, demonstrating the lack solidarity in the community.

Aranzazu Álvarez
Manager of Institutional Relations

Twitter widget by Rimon Habib - BuddyPress Expert Developer