Stefano Fugazzi (ABC Economics) – If Britain votes in favour of the Brexit referendum, it will not be the first country to quit Europe as back in 1985 Greenland withdrew from the then European Community (EC) after gaining a high level of internal autonomy from Denmark in 1979.
The Greenland residents held a referendum in February 1982 on whether to stay in the EC: 52% of voters opted to discontinue membership.
At the time the Greenland Government and the Danish Government, and subsequently the Danish Government and the European Commission, held difficult and protracted negotiations, particularly with regard to fisheries. Exit terms were eventually agreed by the Council of Europe on 20 February 1984, a decision which prompted Greenland’s withdrawal from the EEC on 1 February 1985. Following the exit, Greenland became associated with the EU as an Overseas Country and Territory (OCT) as part of the Greenland Treaty.
The Treaty base for Greenland’s withdrawal was former Article 236 of the Treaty of Rome (now Article 48 of the Treaty on European Union), which provided for amendments to the EC Treaties (“The Government of any Member State or the Commission may submit to the Council proposals for the amendment of this Treaty”) and entry into force following ratification by all Member States “in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements”.
Greenland was granted special status as the country continued to receive European funding after withdrawal and had tariff-free access to the common market for fisheries products in exchange for EC access to Greenland waters.