From Britain and Ireland to Cyprus: Accommodating ‘Divided Islands’ in the EU Political and Legal Order

Research output: Working paper

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In the Brexit referendum of 23 June 2016, England and Wales voted to leave the EU, while Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain. Following that, there has been a debate about how it would be possible to achieve the continuing EU presence of the UK constituent nations that do not want to be taken out against their will. This paper explores two pathways for Scotland and Northern Ireland to remain in the EU. The first entails the achievement of Scottish independence and the reunification of Ireland through democratic referendums. To this effect, the paper reviews the right of secession of those two constituent nations under UK constitutional law and revisits the debate on the appropriate legal basis regulating Scotland’s future EU Accession. The second pathway explores how it would be possible for Scotland and Northern Ireland to remain in the EU even without seceding from the UK. In order to do that, the paper points to the remarkable flexibility of the EU legal order to accommodate the differentiated application of Union law. By focusing on Cyprus, in particular, the paper assesses the possible challenges that such an arrangement would entail.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherSocial Science Research Network
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2016

Publication series

NameEUI Working Paper AEL
PublisherEuropean University Institute
ISSN (Electronic)1831-4066


  • EU law
  • Constitutional law
  • Secession
  • Territorial differentiation
  • Scotland
  • Northern Ireland
  • Cyprus

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