Fellow Talk
Thu 26 Jan 2023 | 15:00–16:00

The Lesser of Two Evils: An Unlawful Withdrawal Notification under the EU’s Article 2 Values

Fellow Talk by Polly Ruth Polak (University of Salamanca), chaired by Raphael Oidtmann (State Parliament of Hessen)

How should the EU react to an Article 50 withdrawal notification sent by illiberal national authorities? This is the main question of this project and its starting hypothesis is that the Union cannot simply accept a withdrawal act that does not meet rule of law and democracy standards due to its mandate to protect Article 2 values. Withdrawal triggered by an authoritarian Member State government is not a hypothetical scenario, Poland and Hungary coming to mind. However, such a situation would also trigger a moment of self-reflection for the EU in which the political temptation to ‘simply let them go’ would need to be counteracted by the respect for the law, for democracy, for citizens’ rights and, ultimately, for the special constitutional nature of the Union. On the one hand, the Union would be defending its values and citizens by rejecting an unlawful withdrawal act but, on the other, it would be (voluntarily?) retaining an autocratic regime inside the EU, with the havoc this would continue to wreak on the Union, the remaining Member States and also on all their citizens. Hence, one must question which option is the lesser of the two evils for the Union’s constitutional foundations.

Polly Ruth Polak carries out legal research in the domains of EU withdrawal law, Art. 2 TEU values, EU citizenship and relevant CJEU case law. Having obtained her Bachelor's in Law at the University of Granada (Spain) and her Masters Degree in EU studies at the University of Salamanca (Spain), she also holds a PhD in Law from this same University after defending her Thesis in May 2021 titled ‘To (not) Have One’s Cake and Eat It. The Restricted Legal Regime of Member State Withdrawal from the European Union in Light of Brexit’. During this time, she published many articles on Brexit in national and international journals, carried out a research visit at Queen Mary University of London and collaborated with many other academic institutions, including the Brexit Institute in Dublin. Later she carried out a fully funded postdoc at the EU Law Department of the University of Groningen until achieving a permanent position as Assistant Professor back at her home University of Salamanca, where she currently teaches Public International Law, EU law and International Relations.



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