Is it possible to leave EU but remain in Eurozone, legally?

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As to this comment:

[I]s it possible to leave EU but remain in Eurozone, legally?

Thanks @DVK for the question

Sven Clement

Posted 2012-12-19T19:50:31.637

Reputation: 5 095

2IP theft!!!!! Calling Judge Koh! :))) – user4012 – 2012-12-19T19:58:07.777

Now if you get a lot of upvotes on this question you will have to set a bounty somewhere and give your reputation to @DVK ;-) – gerrit – 2012-12-19T20:01:02.663

1that was the plan :D – Sven Clement – 2012-12-19T20:01:48.617

@SvenClement - *wondering what to set the interest rate to* </fed_chairman> – user4012 – 2012-12-19T20:28:10.797

hmm, at the current interest rates it is not interesting :D – Sven Clement – 2012-12-19T21:39:32.560

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This article in The Economist has a lot to say about the issue. It basically says that Norway and Switzerland are the two examples to follow. England would probably like to be Switzerland, but is more likely to become a worse off version of Norway.

– Affable Geek – 2012-12-20T02:36:07.243

1@AffableGeek Hm, what do Norway, Switzerland and the UK have to do with the Eurozone? – yannis – 2012-12-20T06:19:54.487

1If you read the article you will see that both are considered so tightly integrated into EFTA as to be considered part of the Eurozone. Norway, for example, has special trade access with the rest of Europe, but is often rqd to adopt euro legislation on several matters. – Affable Geek – 2012-12-20T06:36:32.937

Answers

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The Eurozone isn't a separate entity from the European Union, but an umbrella term for the countries that have reached the third stage of the Economic and Monetary Union. Technically all member states of the EU that have met the convergence criteria are required to adopt the Euro, with the notable exceptions of Denmark and the United Kingdom who managed to obtain special opt outs in the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht.

According to Article 50 (3) of the Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union, if a country withdraws from the European Union all treaties regarding the EMU, starting with the Treaty of Maastricht, will no longer apply, which effectively means that a Eurozone member withdrawing from the EU will also be withdrawing from the Eurozone:

3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

That said, the previous paragraph allows for the withdrawing member to negotiate its future relationship with the EU, without excluding the possibility of the withdrawing member continuing being part of the EMU or any other specific treaty or sets of treaties. Thus, it is theoretically possible for the withdrawing member to remain within the Eurozone, although it seems highly improbable that the European Parliament will give its consent, especially since 2004 opting out of the third stage of the EMU is not allowed for past or future EU members.

Lastly, there is nothing legally stopping a country that has withdrawn from the EU to adopt or continue using the Euro as its national currency, similarly to how Monaco, San Marino, the Vatican City, Kosovo, Montenegro and Andorra have adopted the Euro without being members of the EU and without being represented in the Euro Group. This seems like a far more likely possibility, assuming of course that the withdrawing member is interested in adopting or continuing using the Euro.

yannis

Posted 2012-12-19T19:50:31.637

Reputation: 9 009

and what about Article 50 (2) could that not leave the door open to negotiate (with the approval of the EP) a stay in the eurozone treaties and yet opt out of the rest of E.U. ianal so I can't tell… – Sven Clement – 2012-12-19T21:42:48.070

@SvenClement That's the fuzzy part, in theory it could apply to EMU treaties. The EP obstacle is a big one though, and I don't think the EP would agree to let a member state remain in the Eurozone (with representation in the Euro Group), the other scenario (Monaco, etc) seems far more likely. But strictly speaking, it's a possibility, I'll update the answer in a bit. – yannis – 2012-12-19T21:53:33.350

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The question borders on the meaningless because leaving the EU would be such a dramatic process that it would require complex negotiation and a set of new treaties. As others already discussed, there is in fact an article about that in the treaties but it seems very theoretical at this point.

So what's currently in there doesn't seem very relevant, it's the politics that would matter, more than ever. If there is a will, there is a way, if you will (although I am not too sure there would be a will in this case).

Relaxed

Posted 2012-12-19T19:50:31.637

Reputation: 24 058