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Member state of the European Union
FinlandSwedenEstoniaLatviaLithuaniaPolandSlovakiaHungaryRomaniaBulgariaGreeceCyprusCzech RepublicAustriaSloveniaItalyMaltaPortugalSpainFranceGermanyLuxembourgEuropean Union (EU) consists of 27 member states. Each member state is party to the founding treaties of the union and thereby shares in the privileges and obligations of membership. Unlike members of other international organisations, the member states of the EU have agreed by treaty to shared sovereignty through the institutions of the European Union in some (but by no means all) aspects of government. Member states must agree unanimously for the EU to adopt some policies; for others, collective decision making is by qualified majority voting. Subsidiarity, meaning that decisions are taken collectively if and only if they cannot realistically be taken individually, is a founding principle of the EU.

In the 1950s, six core states founded the EU's predecessor European Communities (Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany). The remaining states have acceded in subsequent enlargements. To accede, a state must fulfill the economic and political requirements known as the Copenhagen criteria, which require a candidate to have a democratic, free-market government together with the corresponding freedoms and institutions, and respect for the rule of law. Enlargement of the Union is also contingent upon the consent of all existing members and the candidate's adoption of the existing body of EU law, known as the acquis communautaire.

Until 2020, no member state had ever withdrawn or been suspended from the EU, though some dependent territories or semi-autonomous areas had previously left. The UK government invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union on 29 March 2017 to formally initiate the Brexit process. Completion occurred on 31 January 2020 (at 23:00 London time),[2] with all other arrangements remaining in place during a transition period while a free trade agreement is negotiated.

List

List of European Union member states
Name Accession Population Area (km²) GDP
(US$M)
GDP per cap.
(PPP)
[3]
Currency Gini HDI
MEPs Languages ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 ISO 3166-1 alpha-3
Austria Austria 1995 8,792,500[4] 83,855 447,718 53,558[5] euro 29.1[6] 0.908[7] 18 German AT AUT
Belgium Belgium 1957Founder In the 1950s, six core states founded the EU's predecessor European Communities (Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany). The remaining states have acceded in subsequent enlargements. To accede, a state must fulfill the economic and political requirements known as the Copenhagen criteria, which require a candidate to have a democratic, free-market government together with the corresponding freedoms and institutions, and respect for the rule of law. Enlargement of the Union is also contingent upon the consent of all existing members and the candidate's adoption of the existing body of EU law, known as the acquis communautaire.

Until 2020, no member state had ever withdrawn or been suspended from the EU, though some dependent territories or semi-autonomous areas had previously left. The UK government invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union on 29 March 2017 to formally initiate the Brexit process. Completion occurred on 31 January 2020 (at 23:00 London time),[2] with all other arrangements remaining in place during a transition period while a free trade agreement is negotiated.

Mirandese

PT PRT
Romania Romania 2007 19,638,309[4] 238,391 243,698 27,998[5] leu 31.5[6] 0.811[7] 32 Romanian RO ROU
Slovakia Slovakia 2004 5,435,343[4] 49,035 106,552 36,640[5] euro 25.8[6] 0.855[7] 13 Slovak SK SVK
Slovenia Slovenia 2004 2,065,895[4] 20,273 54,154 38,462[5] euro 31.2[6] 0.896[7] 8 Slovene SI SVN
Spain Spain[l] 1986 46,528,966[4] 504,030 1,397,870 41,592[5] euro 32.0[6] 0.891[7] 54 Spanish
Galician
Catalan
Occitan
Basque[m]
ES ESP
Sweden Sweden 1995 10,080,000[4] 449,964 528,929 54,628[5] krona 25.0[6] 0.933[7] 20 Swedish SE SWE
Totals/Averages 447,157,381 4,224,488.4 15,687,843 35,083 (avg) 30.8 (avg) 0.882 667
Notes
  1. ^ De facto (though not de jure) excludes the disputed territory of Turkish Cyprus and the U.N. buffer zone. See: Cyprus dispute.
  2. ^ The Turkish language is not an official language of the European Union.
  3. ^ Officially recognised minority languages:
  4. ^ Excludes the autonomous regions of Greenland, which left the then-EEC in 1985, and the Faroe Islands.
  5. ^ Includes the Åland Islands, an autonomous region of Finland.
  6. ^ Includes the overseas regions of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, Réunion, and the overseas collectivity of Saint Martin. Excludes the overseas collectivities of French Polynesia, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and Wallis and Futuna; the special collectivity of New Caledonia; Clipperton Island; and the French Southern and Antarctic Lands.
  7. ^ On 3 October 1990, the constituent states of the former German Democratic Republic acceded to the Federal Republic of Germany, automatically becoming part of the EU.
  8. ^ The Luxembourgish language is not an official language of the European Union.
  9. ^ Excludes the three special municipalities of the Netherlands (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba). Also excludes the three other constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten).
  10. ^ The Frisian language is not an official language of the European Union.
  11. ^ Includes the autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira.
  12. ^ Includes the autonomous community of the Canary Islands; the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla; and the territories comprising the plazas de soberanía.
  13. ^ Basque, Catalan/Valencian, Occitan and Galician are co-official languages with Castilian Spanish in their respective territories, allowing their use in EU institutions under limited circumstances.[12]

Outermost regions

There are a number of overseas member state territories which are legally part of the EU, but have certain exemptions based on their remoteness. These "outermost regions" have partial application of EU law and in some cases are outside of Schengen or the EU VAT area—however they are legally within the EU.[13] They all use the euro as their currency.

Territory Member State Location Area
km2
Population Per capita GDP
(EU=100)
EU VAT area Schengen Area
 Azores  Portugal Atlantic Ocean 2,333 237,900 66.7 Yes Yes
 Canary Islands  Spain Atlantic Ocean 7,447 1,715,700 93.7 No Yes
 French Guiana  France South America 84,000 161,100 50.5 No No
 Guadeloupe  France Caribbean 1,710 425,700 50.5 No No
 Madeira  Portugal Atlantic Ocean 795 244,800 94.9 Yes Yes
 Saint-Martin  France Caribbean 52 25,000 61.9 No No
 Martinique  France Caribbean 1,080 383,300 75.6 No No
 Réunion  France Indian Ocean 2,512 837,868 61.6 No No
 Mayotte[14]  France Indian Ocean 374 212,645 No No

Acronyms

Acronyms have been used as a shorthand way of grouping countries by their date of accession.

  • EU15 includes the fifteen countries in the European Union from 1 January 1995 to 1 May 2004. The EU15 comprised Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom.[15] Eurostat still uses this expression.
  • EU19 includes the countries in the EU15 as well as the central European member countries of the OECD: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovak Republic.[16]
  • EU11 is used to refer to the Central, Eastern and Baltic European member states that joined in 2004, 2007 and 2013: in 2004 the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia; in 2007 Bulgaria, Romania; and in 2013 Croatia.[17][18]
  • EU27 means all the member states. It was originally used in this sense from 2007 until Croatia's accession in 2013, and during the Brexit negotiations from 2017 until the United Kingdom's withdrawal on 31 January 2020 it came to mean all members except the UK.
  • EU28 meant all the member states from the accession of Croatia in 2013 to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom in 2020.

Additionally, other acronyms have been used to refer to countries which have limited access to the EU labour market.[19]

  • A8 is eight of the ten countries that joined the EU in 2004, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia.
  • A2 is the countries that joined the EU in 2007, Bulgaria and Romania.

Changes in membership

Enlargement

Member states of the European Union (dark blue) (1993-present). Pre-1993, the EU was known as the European Communities (sky blue). Animated in order of accession and secession.

According to the Copenhagen criteria, membership of the European Union is open to any European country that is a stable, free-market liberal democracy that respects the rule of law and human rights. Furthermore, it has to be willing to accept all the obligations of membership, such as adopting all previously agreed law (the 170,000 pages of acquis communautaire) and switching to the euro.[20] For a state to join the European Union, the prior approval of all current member states is required. In addition to enlargement by adding new countries, the EU can also expand by having territories of member states, which are outside the EU, integrate more closely (for example in respect to the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles) or by a territory of a member state which had previously seceded and then rejoined (see withdrawal below).

Suspension

There is no provision to expel a member state, but TEU Article 7 provides for the suspension of certain rights. Introduced in the Treaty of Amsterdam, Article 7 outlines that if a member persistently breaches the EU's founding principles (liberty, democracy, human rights and so forth, outlined in TEU Article 2) then the European Council can vote to suspend any rights of membership, such as voting and representation. Identifying the breach requires unanimity (excluding the state concerned), but sanctions require only a qualified majority.[21]

The state in question would still be bound by the obligations treaties and the Council acting by majority may alter or lift such sanctions. The Treaty of Nice included a preventive mechanism whereby the Council, acting by majority, may identify a potential breach and make recommendations to the state to rectify it before action is taken against it as outlined above.[21] However, the treaties do not provide any mechanism to expel a member state outright.[22]

Withdrawal

The Lisbon Treaty made the first provision of a member state to leave. The procedure for a state to leave is outlined in TEU Article 50 which also makes clear that "Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements". Although it calls for a negotiated withdrawal between the seceding state and the rest of the EU, if no agreement is reached two years after the seceding state notifying of its intention to leave, it would cease to be subject to the treaties anyway (thus ensuring a right to unilateral withdrawal).[22] There is no formal limit to how much time a member state can take between adopting a policy of withdrawal, and actually triggering Article 50.

In a non-binding referendum in June 2016—the result of which the government promised to implement—the United Kingdom voted to withdraw from the EU. The UK government triggered Article 50 on 29 March 2017.[23] After an extended period of negotiation and internal political debate the United Kingdom eventually withdrew from the EU on 31 January 2020 concluding the first phase of the Brexit process.

Prior to 2016, no member state had ever voted to withdraw. However, French Algeria, Greenland and Saint-Barthélemy did cease being part of the EU (or its predecessor) in 1962, 1985, and 2012, respectively, due to status changes. The situation of Greenland being outside the EU while still subject to an EU member state had been discussed as a template for the pro-EU regions of the UK remaining within the EU or its single market.[24]

Beyond the formal withdrawal of a member state, there are a number of independence movements such as Catalonia or Flanders which could result in a similar situation to Greenland. Were a territory of a member state to secede but wish to remain in the EU, some scholars claim it would need to reapply to join as if it were a new country applying from scratch.[25] However, other studies claim internal enlargement is legally viable if, in case of a member state dissolution or secession, the resulting states are all considered successor states.[26] There is also a European Citizens' Initiative that aims at guaranteeing the continuity of rights and obligations of the European citizens belonging to a new state arising from the democratic secession of a European Union member state.[27]

As of February 2020 the United Kingdom is the only former member state to formally undertake the process of withdrawing from the European Union. This began when the UK Government triggered Article 50 to begin the UK's withdrawal from the EU on 29 March 2017 following a June 2016 referendum, and the withdrawal was scheduled in law to occur on 29 March 2019.[28] Subsequently, the UK sought, and was granted, a number of Article 50 extensions until 31 January 2020. On 23 January 2020, the Withdrawal agreement was ratified by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and on 29 January 2020 by the European Parliament. The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020 at 23:00 GMT ending 47 years of membership.[29][30]

Representation

[13] They all use the euro as their currency.

Territory Member State Location Area
km2
Population Per capita GDP
(EU=100)
EU VAT area Schengen Area
 Azores  Portugal Atlantic Ocean 2,333 237,900 66.7 Yes Yes
 Canary Islands  Spain Atlantic Ocean 7,447 1,715,700 93.7 No Yes
 French Guiana  France South America 84,000 161,100 50.5 No No
 Guadeloupe  France Caribbean 1,710 425,700 50.5 No No
 Madeira  Portugal Atlantic Ocean 795 244,800 94.9 Yes Yes
 Saint-Martin  France Caribbean 52 25,000 61.9 No No
 Martinique  France Caribbean 1,080 383,300 75.6 No No
 Réunion  France Indian Ocean 2,512 837,868 61.6 No No
 Mayotte[14]  France Indian Ocean 374 212,645 No No

Acronyms

Acronyms have been used as a shorthand way of grouping countries by their date of accession.

  • EU15 includes the fifteen countries in the European Union from 1 January 1995 to 1 May 2004. The EU15 comprised Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom.[15] Eurostat still uses this expression.
  • EU19 includes the countries in the EU15 as well as the central European member countries of the OECD: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovak Republic.[16]
  • EU11 is used to refer to the Central, Eastern and Baltic European member states that joined in 2004, 2007 and 2013: in 2004 the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia; in 2007 Bulgaria, Romania; and in 2013 Croatia.[17][18]
  • EU27 means all the member states. It was originally used in this sense from 2007 until Croatia's accession in 2013, and during the Brexit negotiations from 2017 until the United Kingdom's withdrawal on 31 January 2020 it came to mean all members except the UK.
  • EU28 meant all the member states from the accession of Croatia in 2013 to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom in 2020.

Additionally, other acronyms have been used to refer to countries which have limited access to the EU labour market.[19]

  • A8 is eight of the ten countries that joined the EU in 2004, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia.
  • A2 is the countries that joined the EU in 2007, Bulgaria and Romania.

Changes in membership

Enlargement

Member states of the European Union (dark blue) (1993-present). Pre-1993, the EU was known as the European Communities (sky blue). Animated in order of accession and secession.

According to the Copenhagen criteria, membership of the European Union is open to any European country that is a stable, free-market liberal democracy that respects the rule of law and human rights. Furthermore, it has to be willing to accept all the obligations of membership, such as adopting all previously agreed law (the 170,000 pages of acquis communautaire) and switching to the euro.[20] For a state to join the European Union, the prior approval of all current member states is required. In addition to enlargement by adding new countries, the EU can also expand by having territories of member states, which are outside the EU, integrate more closely (for example in respect to the dis

Acronyms have been used as a shorthand way of grouping countries by their date of accession.

  • EU15 includes the fifteen countries in the European Union from 1 January 1995 to 1 May 2004. The EU15 comprised Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom.[15] Eurostat still uses this expression.
  • EU19 includes the countries in the EU15 as well as the central European member countries of the OECD: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovak Republic.[16]
  • EU11 is used to refer to the Central, Eastern and Baltic European member states that joined in 2004, 2007 and 2013: in 2004 the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia; in 2007 Bulgaria, Romania; and in 2013 Croatia.[17][18]
  • EU27 means all the member states. It was originally used in this sense from 2007 until Croatia's accession in 2013, and during the Brexit negotiations from 2017 until the United Kingdom's withdrawal on 31 January 2020 it came to mean all members except the UK.
  • EU28 meant all the member states from the accession of Croatia in 2013 to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom in 2020.

Additionally, other acronyms have been used to refer to countries which have limited access to the EU labour market.[19]

  • A8 is eight of the ten countries that joined the EU in 2004, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia.
  • A2 is the countries that joined the EU in 2007, Bulgaria and Romania.

Changes in membership

Enlargement

Member states of the European Union (dark blue) (1993-present). Pre-1993, the EU was known as the European Communities (sky blue). Animated in order of accession and secession.

According to the Copenhagen criteria, membership of the European Union is open to any European country that is a stable, free-market liberal democracy that respects the rule of law and human rights. Furthermore, it has to be willing to accept all the obligations of membership, such as adopting all previously agreed law (the 170,000 pages of acquis communautaire) and switching to the euro.[20] For a state to join the European Union, the prior approval of all current member states is required. In addition to enlargement by adding new countries, the EU can also expand by having territories of member states, which are outside the EU, integrate more closely (for example in respect to the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles) or by a territory of a member state which had previously seceded and then rejoined (see withdrawal below).

Suspension

There is no provision to expel a member state, but TEU Article 7 provides for the suspension of certain rights. Introduced in the Treaty of Amsterdam, Article 7 outlines that if a member persistently breaches the EU's founding principles (liberty, democracy, human rights and so forth, outlined in TEU Article 2) then the European Council can vote to suspend any rights of membership, such as voting and representation. Identifying the breach requires unanimity (excluding the state concerned), but sanctions require only a qualified majority.[21]

The state in question would still be bound by the obligations treaties and the Council acting by majority may alter or lift such sanctions. The Treaty of Nice included a preventive mechanism whereby the Council, acting by majority, may identify a potential breach and make recommendations to the state to rectify it before action is taken against it as outlined above.[21] However, the treaties do not provide any mechanism to expel a member state outright.[22]

Withdrawal

The Lisbon Treaty made the first provision of a member state to leave. The procedure for a state to leave is outlined in TEU Article 50 which also makes clear that "Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements". Although it calls for a negotiated withdrawal between the seceding state and the rest of the EU, if no agreement is reached two years after the seceding state notifying of its intention to leave, it would cease to be subject to the treaties anyway (thus ensuring a right to unilateral withdrawal).[22] There is no formal limit to how much time a member state can take between adopting a policy of withdrawal, and actually triggering Article 50.

In a non-binding referendum in June 2016—the result of which the government promised to implement—the United Kingdom voted to withdraw from the EU. The UK government triggered Article 50 on 29 March 2017.[23] After an extended period of negotiation and internal political debate the United Kingdom eventually withdrew from the EU on 31 January 2020 concluding the first phase of the Brexit process.

Prior to 2016, no member state had ever voted to withdraw. However, French Algeria, Greenland and Saint-Barthélemy did cease being part of the EU (or its predecessor) in 1962, 1985, and 2012, respectively, due to status changes. The situation of Greenland being outside the EU while still subject to an EU member state had been discussed as a template for the pro-EU regions of the UK remaining within the EU or its single market.[24]

Beyond the formal withdrawal of a member state, there are a number of independence movements such as Catalonia or Flanders which could result in a similar situation to Greenland. Were a territory of a member state to secede but wish to remain in the EU, some scholars claim it would need to reapply to join as if it were a new country applying from scratch.[25] However, other studies claim internal enlargement is legally viable if, in case of a member state dissolution or secession, the resulting states are all considered successor states.[26] There is also a European Citizens' Initiative that aims at guaranteeing the continuity of rights and obligations of the European citizens belonging to a new state arising from the democratic secession of a European Union member state.[27]

As of February 2020 the United Kingdom is the only former member state to formally undertake the process of withdrawing from the European Union. This began when the UK Government triggered Article 50 to begin the UK's withdrawal from the EU on 29 March 2017 following a [19]

  • A8 is eight of the ten countries that joined the EU in 2004, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia.
  • A2 is the countries that joined the EU in 2007, Bulgaria and Romania.

Changes in membership

Enlargement

Copenhagen criteria, membership of the European Union is open to any European country that is a stable, free-market liberal democracy that respects the rule of law and human rights. Furthermore, it has to be willing to accept all the obligations of membership, such as adopting all previously agreed law (the 170,000 pages of acquis communautaire) and switching to the euro.[20] For a state to join the European Union, the prior approval of all current member states is required. In addition to enlargement by adding new countries, the EU can also expand by having territories of member states, which are outside the EU, integrate more closely (for example in respect to the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles) or by a territory of a member state which had previously seceded and then rejoined (see withdrawal below).

Suspension

There is no provision to expel a member state, but TEU Article 7 provides for the suspension of certain rights. Introduced in the Treaty of Amsterdam, Article 7 outlines that if a member persistently breaches the EU's founding principles (liberty, democracy, human rights and so forth, outlined in TEU Article 2) then the European Council can vote to suspend any rights of membership, such as voting and representation. Identifying the breach requires unanimity (excluding the state concerned), but sanctions require only a qualified majority.[21]

The state in question would still be bound by the obligations treaties and the Council acting by majority may alter or lift such sanctions. The Treaty of Nice included a preventive mechanism whereby the Council, acting by majority, may identify a potential breach and make recommendations to the state to rectify it before action is taken against it as outlined above.[21] However, the treaties do not provide any mechanism to expel a membe

There is no provision to expel a member state, but TEU Article 7 provides for the suspension of certain rights. Introduced in the Treaty of Amsterdam, Article 7 outlines that if a member persistently breaches the EU's founding principles (liberty, democracy, human rights and so forth, outlined in TEU Article 2) then the European Council can vote to suspend any rights of membership, such as voting and representation. Identifying the breach requires unanimity (excluding the state concerned), but sanctions require only a qualified majority.[21]

The state in question would still be bound by the obligations treaties and the Council acting by majority may alter or lift such sanctions. The Treaty of Nice included a preventive mechanism whereby the Council, acting by majority, may identify a potential breach and make recommendations to the state to rectify it before action is taken against it as outlined above.[21] However, the treaties do not p

The state in question would still be bound by the obligations treaties and the Council acting by majority may alter or lift such sanctions. The Treaty of Nice included a preventive mechanism whereby the Council, acting by majority, may identify a potential breach and make recommendations to the state to rectify it before action is taken against it as outlined above.[21] However, the treaties do not provide any mechanism to expel a member state outright.[22]

The Lisbon Treaty made the first provision of a member state to leave. The procedure for a state to leave is outlined in TEU Article 50 which also makes clear that "Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements". Although it calls for a negotiated withdrawal between the seceding state and the rest of the EU, if no agreement is reached two years after the seceding state notifying of its intention to leave, it would cease to be subject to the treaties anyway (thus ensuring a right to unilateral withdrawal).[22] There is no formal limit to how much time a member state can take between adopting a policy of withdrawal, and actually triggering Article 50.

In a non-binding referendum in June 2016—the result of which the government promised to implement—the United Kingdom voted to withdraw from the EU. The UK government triggered Article 50 on 29 March 2017.[23] After an extended period of negotiation and internal political debate the Un

In a non-binding referendum in June 2016—the result of which the government promised to implement—the United Kingdom voted to withdraw from the EU. The UK government triggered Article 50 on 29 March 2017.[23] After an extended period of negotiation and internal political debate the United Kingdom eventually withdrew from the EU on 31 January 2020 concluding the first phase of the Brexit process.

Prior to 2016, no member state had ever voted to withdraw. However, French Algeria, Greenland and Saint-Barthélemy did cease being part of the EU (or its predecessor) in 1962, 1985, and 2012, respectively, due to status changes. The situation of Greenland being outside the EU while still subject to an EU member state had been discussed as a template for the pro-EU regions of the UK remaining within the EU or its single market.[24]

Beyond the formal withdrawal of a member state, there are a number of independence movements such as Catalonia or Flanders which could result in a similar situation to Greenland. Were a territory of a member state to secede but wish to remain in the EU, some scholars claim it would need to reapply to join as if it were a new country applying from scratch.[25] However, other studies claim internal enlargement is legally viable if, in case of a member state dissolution or secession, the resulting states are all considered successor states.[26] There is also a European Citizens' Initiative that aims at guaranteeing the continuity of rights and obligations of the European citizens belonging to a new state arising from the democratic secession of a European Union member state.[27]

As of February 2020 the United Kingdom is the only former member state to formally undertake the process of withdrawing from the European Union. This began when the UK Government triggered Article 50 to begin the UK's withdrawal from the EU on 29 March 2017 following a June 2016 referendum, and the withdrawal was scheduled in law to occur on 29 March 2019.[28] Subsequently, the UK sought, and was granted, a number of Article 50 extensions until 31 January 2020. On 23 January 2020, the Withdrawal agreement was ratified by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and on 29 January 2020 by the European Parliament. The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020 at 23:00 GMT ending 47 years of membership.[29][30]

Each state has representation in the institutions of the European Union. Full membership gives the government of a member state a seat in the Council of the European Union and European Council. When decisions are not being taken by consensus, qualified majority voting (which requires majorities both of the number of states and of the population they represent, but a sufficient blocking minority can veto the proposal). The Presidency of the Council of the European Union rotates among each of the member states, allowing each state six months to help direct the agenda of the EU.[31][32]

Similarly, each state is assigned seats in Parliament according to their population (smaller countries receiving more seats per inhabitant than the larger ones). The members of the European Parliament have been elected by universal suffrage since 1979 (before that, they were seconded from national parliaments).[33][34]

The national governments appoint one member each to the European Commission, the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Auditors. Prospective Commissioners must be confirmed both by the President of the Commission and by the European Parliament; prospective justices must be confirmed by the existing members. Historically, larger member states were granted an extra Commissioner. However, as the body grew, this right has been removed and each state is represented equally. The six largest states are also granted an Advocates General in the Court of Justice. Finally, the Governing Council of the European Central Bank

Similarly, each state is assigned seats in Parliament according to their population (smaller countries receiving more seats per inhabitant than the larger ones). The members of the European Parliament have been elected by universal suffrage since 1979 (before that, they were seconded from national parliaments).[33][34]

The national governments appoint one member each to the European Commission, the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Auditors. Prospective Commissioners must be confirmed both by the President of the Commission and by the European Parliament; prospective justices must be confirmed by the existing members. Historically, larger member states were granted an extra Commissioner. However, as the body grew, this right has been removed and each state is represented equally. The six largest states are also granted an Advocates General in the Court of Justice. Finally, the Governing Council of the European Central Bank includes the governors of the national central banks (who may or may not be government appointed) of each euro area country.[35]

The larger states traditionally carry more weight in negotiations, however smaller states can be effective impartial mediators and citizens of smaller states are often appointed to sensitive top posts to avoid competition between the larger states. This, together with the disproportionate representation of the smaller states in terms of votes and seats in parliament, gives the smaller EU states a greater power of influence than is normally attributed to a state of their size. However most negotiations are still dominated by the larger states. This has traditionally been largely through the "Franco-German motor" but Franco-German influence has diminished slightly following the influx of new members in 2004 (see G6).[36]

Article 4 of the Treaty on European Union

While the member states are sovereign, the union partially follows a supranational system for those functions agreed by treaty to be shared. ("Competences not conferred upon the Union in the Treaties remain with the member states"). Previously limited to European Community matters, the practice, known as the 'community method', is currently used in many areas of policy. Combined sovereignty is delegated by each member to the institutions in return for representation within those institutions. This practice is often referred to as 'pooling of sovereignty'. Those institutions are then empowered to make laws and execute them at a European level.

If a state fails to comply with the law of the European Union, it may be fined or have funds withdrawn.

In contrast to other organisations, the EU's style of integration has "become a highly developed system for mutual interference in each other's domestic affairs".[37] However, on defence and foreign policy issues (and, pre-Lisbon Treaty, police and judicial matters) less sovereignty is transferred, with issues being dealt with by unanimity and co-operation. Very early on in the history of the EU, the unique state of its establishment and pooling of sovereignty was emphasised by the Court of Justice:[38]

By creating a Community of unlimited duration, having its own institutions, its own personality, its own legal capacity and capacity of representation on the international plane and, more particularly, real powers stemming from a limitation of sovereignty or a transfer of powers from the States to Community, the Member States have limited their sovereign rights and have thus created a body of law which binds both their nationals and themselves...The transfer by the States from their domestic legal system to the Community legal system of the rights and obligations arising under the Treaty carries with it a permanent limitation of their sovereign rights.

— European Court of Justice 1964, in reference to case of supranational system for those functions agreed by treaty to be shared. ("Competences not conferred upon the Union in the Treaties remain with the member states"). Previously limited to European Community matters, the practice, known as the 'community method', is currently used in many areas of policy. Combined sovereignty is delegated by each member to the institutions in return for representation within those institutions. This practice is often referred to as 'pooling of sovereignty'. Those institutions are then empowered to make laws and execute them at a European level.

If a

If a state fails to comply with the law of the European Union, it may be fined or have funds withdrawn.

In contrast to other organisations, the EU's style of integration has "become a highly developed system for mutual interference in each other's domestic affairs".[37] However, on defence and foreign policy issues (and, pre-Lisbon Treaty, police and judicial matters) less sovereignty is transferred, with issues being dealt with by unanimity and co-operation. Very early on in the history of the EU, the unique state of its establishment and pooling of sovereignty was emphasised by the Court of Justice:[38]

By creating a Community of unlimited duration, having its own institutions, its own personality, its own legal capacity and capacity of representation on the international plane and, more particularly, real powers stemming from a limitation of sovereignty or a transfer of powers from the States to Community, the Member States have limited their sovereign rights and have thus created a body of law which binds both their nationals and themselves...The transfer by the States from their domestic legal system to the Community legal system of the rights and obligations arising under the Treaty carries with it a permanent limitation of their sovereign rights.

— European Court of Justice 1964, in reference to case of Costa v ENELThe question of whether EU law is superior to national law is subject to some debate. The treaties do not give a judgement on the matter but court judgements have established EU's law superiority over national law and it is affirmed in a declaration attached to the Treaty of Lisbon (the European Constitution would have fully enshrined this). Some national legal systems also explicitly accept the Court of Justice's interpretation, such as France and Italy, however in Poland it does not override the national constitution, which it does in Germany.[citation needed] The exact areas where the member states have given legislative competence to the EU are as follows. Every area not mentioned remains with member states.[40]

Competences

Competences of the European Union in relation to those of its member states[41]