Let's say an EU country breaks up (peacefully). The type of breakup Czechoslovakia, or USSR had.

Would any and all newly formed countries need to go through a formal EU application and new joiner process to be in the EU? Or would they all automatically be part of EU? Or is it 100% case by case basis?

Does the answer get affected if one of the parts is a "sovereign inheritor" of a former big country, the way Russia inherited basically all of USSR's treaties, agreements and international positions?

  • @Drux No, but it was a country. It's a basic point of international law so that's a relevant precedent.
    – Relaxed
    Jul 18, 2016 at 22:10
  • 1
    @Drux OK, but Czechoslovakia never was an EU country either. It seems clear that "like" refers to the break up itself in this case.
    – Relaxed
    Jul 19, 2016 at 6:17
  • @Drux - fixed the wording to be clearer.
    – user4012
    Jul 19, 2016 at 10:38
  • It's indeed clearer now (also to this non-native speaker). Thx.
    – Drux
    Jul 19, 2016 at 14:20

2 Answers 2


EU membership is based on treaties so in principle the successor state would still be a member (and France certainly remained a member of the EC after the independence of Algeria…). Any other state would need to be admitted to the EU if not through the regular accession procedure, at least through some ad hoc agreement with all current members.

But in reality, such a break-up would be such a momentous event that it would certainly be handled at highest level, in the European Council, on a case-by-case basis. And if all members agree, it's always possible to find some sort of solution, if needed by amending the treaties or creating new ones (cf. everything that has been done during the ongoing Euro crisis). The rest does not matter all that much.

And therein lies the rub: Some current members, first and foremost Spain, are very hostile to giving EU membership for breakaway regions, for fear of bolstering similar movements in their own country. Case in point, Mariano Rajoy, Spain's current prime minister repeatedly stated publicly that Spain would not allow Scotland to remain in the union in case it became independent and did it again last week. That means that even the regular route to membership could be closed in such a scenario (current members can basically veto a candidacy indefinitely, like Greece and Bulgaria are doing to Macedonia over the name of the country).

  • I know that some people just don't like me or hearing some basic facts about the EU but what's even debatable in this answer?
    – Relaxed
    Jul 3, 2016 at 8:36

I'm not sure but I don't think that Scotland (for example) signed their own treaty apart from the UK; there is one treaty for the UK that includes all countries that are a part of the UK. Therefore, if the UK quits, than all countries of the UK will quit automatically. If Scotland splits off it will be a new independent country that needs a new treaty with the EU. And as a independent country it is very likely that it has to prove in some way or the other that it still fulfills the requirements for the EU. Independence is a big change and because of this I don't think that it will be automatically a new EU member.

  • Is German your mother tongue by any chance?
    – Relaxed
    Jul 3, 2016 at 18:05
  • Yes it is. I'm sorry if my syntax is a bit messy.
    – BobbyPi
    Jul 3, 2016 at 19:13
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    No worries, it's just that in this context "Vertrag" is translated as "treaty", not "contract" (but a Vertrag between businesses or private persons is indeed a contract). Also it might feel like splitting hairs but new members do not enter a treaty with the EU, they enter a treaty with all other EU members (the EU does enter treaties as such, but with other states, not with its own member states.)
    – Relaxed
    Jul 4, 2016 at 8:05

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