Exit clause for EU members proposed

Convention President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing proposed an ‘exit clause’ that would allow EU Member States to leave the Union voluntarily. Proposals to exclude countries that do not ratify the new Constitutional Treaty were rejected.

The exit clause (Article 46 of the future Treaty), proposed by Mr Giscard to 105 European Convention members on 4 April, would allow Member States to leave the EU if they give two years' notice. Under the proposed clause, any request to leave the EU would have to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. The terms of a country's exit from the EU would have to be agreed by a qualified majority.

The proposal will be formally debated by the Convention at its next plenary session on 24 and 25 April, but it has already attracted comments from some members. The British Government representative, Peter Hain, called the proposal "excellent" and warned that its rejection would strengthen arguments against the EU. The Eurosceptic Democracy Forum attacked the proposal, arguing that Member States which wish to leave the EU will be forced to wait for two years while other Member States decide the terms.

The idea to exclude any Member State that does not ratify the Constitutional Treaty was retracted. The protocol proposed by Mr Giscard only says that if two years after the Treaty is signed, four-fifths of the countries have ratified it but others have not, the issue will be referred to EU leaders. The Treaty would not come into force until all countries have ratified it.



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