From Roderick Parkes‘ Super Commuter blog at EUobserver.com – Exit; the EU’s unfortunate taboo:
With the EU lurching from crisis to crisis, one thing has become clear: European integration will continue for an “unlimited period” only in the sense that there is no firm date for its expiry. Far from being broken down, the member states are showing their vitality by obstructing further cooperation. And the question about how to leave the Eurozone, the Schengen Area, the EU itself, is becoming almost mainstream…
Commentators have been warning of such developments for years; but they have largely missed the irony: had the EU faced up earlier to the possibility of member states leaving, it could actually have nurtured integration. This is because a withdrawal clause can be a boon to cooperation. A well-formulated withdrawal clause can reduce the incidence of withdrawal.
If there is clarity about the rights and duties entailed by leaving, for example, governments are forced into a more active commitment to cooperation. They can’t pretend to their voters that they are trapped in an arrangement against their will (as most Eurozone capitals seem to do these days). And they cannot petulantly threaten withdrawal (as Italy did in response to the recent Schengen crisis).
Moreover, clarity about how to leave a union can give governments the leverage they need to block excessive centralisation, to avoid marginalization in the negotiations that matter to them most, as well as to prevent serial exploitation at the hands of their partners. Such problems are at the root of the EU’s current crises.