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