34

Lets assume that some EU member states think that a certain other member state should no longer be a member of the EU. In contrary to this question, that state has no intention to withdraw from the EU on their own accord, so Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union does not apply.

Is there a process by which a member state can be "kicked out" of the EU or some circumstances which cause the EU membership to become invalid automatically?

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    Incidentally, that's why many of the ideas floated during the last acute phase of the Greek crisis (e.g. by the German finance ministry) were pure legal fiction with no basis in reality. The only reason Greece caved in or anything happens really is because its banking system is dependent on the ECB and the European monetary system, politically the EU and the other member states have zero leverage. – Relaxed Jan 16 '16 at 12:48
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    @Relaxed The "grexit" was about Greece leaving the Eurozone (countries which use the Euro as their official currency), not about leaving the European Union. These are intervened but still separated institutions. Leaving one does not necessarily imply leaving the other. – Philipp Jan 16 '16 at 13:20
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    The discussion went in all directions and was completely baseless anyway so it's difficult to claim it was about something very specific in particular, but the crux of the matter is that under the EU treaty itself, the Euro is an integral part of EU membership, no exception or going back except for the three countries that got an opt out in 1992. The point is that the legal basis for both the Euro and EU membership more generally is exactly the same (namely the EU treaties) and those treaties have no provision to exclude a member or to be revised without unamity. – Relaxed Jan 16 '16 at 13:31
  • (+1 to the question, by the way) – Relaxed Jan 16 '16 at 13:37
19

No, there is no mechanism for any state to be expelled from the European Union. Article 7 does however allow the council to suspend the representation and voting rights of a state which repeatedly violates the EU's founding principles. This type of vote could effectively eject the state, though not officially.

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    +1 for the first sentence but formally suspending the voting rights would not amount to an exclusion from the European union. That state would still be bound by all the rules and regulations, its business would have access to the common market, its citizens covered by the freedom of movement, etc. Of course, that's an entirely theoretical distinction, it's difficult to imagine what would really happen if the EU was prepared to go as far as invoking article 7... – Relaxed Jan 16 '16 at 12:45
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    Thank you for your answer. So I assume that the current discussion to put Poland "under supervision" in response to certain authoritarian policies enacted by their new government, it is about taking the first step which would make the suspension of Poland under article 7 possible? – Philipp Jan 16 '16 at 13:38
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    @Phillip yes I believe this "supervision" is the first step towards invoking Article 7. The article you linked to quotes a commissioner as saying Poland "could lose voting rights." – jebar8 Jan 16 '16 at 19:42
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    One strategy I have heard suggested is that all the other countries drop out of the EU and form a new union. – Peter Green Jun 28 '16 at 18:47
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    Another format of EU-level sanction against a state is to temporarily ban the diplomats of one Member State from all meetings. Happened to Austria under Haider, c. 1999-2000. – Fr. Jan 6 '17 at 3:32
11

As mentioned, Article 7 can be used for temporary suspension. Especially during the debt crisis, the idea of invoking public international law has also gained in popularity. Article 60 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties:

A material breach of a multilateral treaty by one of the parties entitles:

a) The other parties by unanimous agreement to suspend the operation of the treaty in whole or in part or to terminate it either:

(i) In the relations between themselves and the defaulting State, or

(ii) As between all the parties;

Article 62:

  1. A fundamental change of circumstances which has occurred with regard to those existing at the time of the conclusion of a treaty, and which was not foreseen by the parties, may not be invoked as a ground for terminating or withdrawing from the treaty unless:

(a) The existence of those circumstances constituted an essential basis of the consent of the parties to be bound by the treaty; and

(b) The effect of the change is radically to transform the extent of obligations still to be performed under the treaty

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