Written in an article by The Independent 'Northern Ireland ‘can rejoin EU after Brexit if it votes for reunification'. A statement from the Brexit Secretary on an Ireland reunification says:

“If a majority of the people of Northern Ireland were ever to vote to become part of a united Ireland the UK Government will honour its commitment to enable that to happen.”

“In that event, Northern Ireland would be in a position of becoming part of an existing EU member state, rather than seeking to join the EU as a new independent state.”

Have there been any other occurrences of (re)unification for membership of the European Union or its predecessor other than that of the 1990 unification of East and West Germany to join the EEC, or any serious political discussion within a member state about doing so?

  • The only other case I know of would be Cyprus and AFAIK there the official position of the EU is that the whole island is already a member of the EU. Reunifications are rare. :-) Mar 29, 2017 at 11:30
  • @MartinSchröder I thought as much, but haven't heard of the Cyprus and AFAIK situation before. I'll look into that. Mar 29, 2017 at 11:46
  • Mayotte was French all along but became part of the EU in 2014. Greenland left in 1985 and Saint-Barthélemy left in 2012 (both are now considered “overseas countries and territories”). And as you note, Germany added a big chunk of territory and population in 1990. So territorial reconfigurations are possible.
    – Relaxed
    Apr 24, 2017 at 20:28
  • 2
    @BradleyWilson I think that "AFAIK" is "as far as I know", rather than a country, or a Cypriot group. As far as I know...
    – owjburnham
    Jun 24, 2017 at 11:59
  • Ah gotcha, never heard of that acronym before. Jun 24, 2017 at 12:33

1 Answer 1


The only other example I know of is the situation in Cyprus. On accession to the EU in 2003, the northern part of the island was, and remains, de facto controlled by Northern Cyprus; a state created after the 1974 invasion by Turkey.

As a consequence, in the treaty which set out the state's accession, the EU laid out how the issue would be handled.

In particular, Article 1 suspends the application of the 'acquis' - and therefore, the EU's de facto territory - in areas of Cyprus not effectively controlled by the government, while reserving the right of the Council to withdraw this suspension, presumably on reunification.

Article 1

  1. The application of the acquis shall be suspended in those areas of the Republic of Cyprus in which the Government of the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control.

  2. The Council, acting unanimously on the basis of a proposal from the Commission, shall decide on the withdrawal of the suspension referred to in paragraph 1.

Article 4 is also relevant; it allows the European Council, acting unanimously, to alter primary law - the Act of Accession 2003 - in order to provide a simplified procedure to accommodate a reunification or territorial change. A primary law change would usually have to be ratified by all member states.

Article 4

In the event of a settlement, the Council, acting unanimously on the basis of a proposal from the Commission, shall decide on the adaptations to the terms concerning the accession of Cyprus to the European Union with regard to the Turkish Cypriot Community.

This 'pre-ratification', is as far as I'm aware, the closest example to the Northern Ireland & East Germany situations.

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