Greexit, Alxit and Barxit? Three times the European Union shrank

  • AFP, Brussels
  • Updated: Jun 22, 2016 11:23 IST
A pro-Brexit flag flies from a fishing boat moored in Ramsgate on June 13, 2016. (AFP)

Britain is voting on whether to become the first state to leave the European Union -- but a “Brexit” would not be the first time the bloc has shrunk.

In the past, Greenland, Algeria and the island of Saint-Barthelemy have all made their way out of the EU and its precursors.


The largest island in the world was a part of Denmark when the Nordic country joined the European Economic Community in 1973.

After Greenland won extensive autonomy from Copenhagen, the government in Nuuk held a referendum on its place in the EEC in 1982.

The out camp won by 53 percent, largely on the back of an anti-European mood fuelled by overfishing in Greenland’s waters by industrial fleets from the EEC.

“Greexit” from the EEC officially happened in February 1985.

However, Greenland is still officially one of the Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union and remains eligible for some EU funding under the EU-Greenland partnership.


The North African country remained part of France after World War II. Algerian territories were organised as French “departments” and a direct part of France.

Legally Algeria was therefore also involved in the European Economic Community, which was founded in 1957. After a bloody war of independence Algeria became a sovereign state in 1962 and therefore left the EEC.

But for years afterwards Algeria remained in a grey area in relation to Europe and had largely unrestricted access to the European market.

It was not until 2005 that the EU and Algeria signed an association agreement to formalise their relations.

Pro-Brexit flags fly from a fishing boat moored in Ramsgate on June 13, 2016. (AFP)


This small group of islands in the Caribbean used to be a commune of Guadeloupe, which is also a French “department” and therefore part of the EU.

In a referendum in 2007 Saint-Barthelemy became a separate French administrative unit, and in 2012 it became an overseas territory, and as a result no longer part of the EU.

But while the EU lost 25 square kilometres of prime Caribbean territory, the inhabitants of Saint-Barthelemy remain French citizens with EU status and can even use the euro as their currency under a special agreement.

Also Read | Which way forward? Europe divided on post-Brexit path

Also Read | Britain’s newspapers take sides in EU referendum debate

From Around the Web
Sponsored by Revcontent

also read

No bidders for Vijay Mallya’s Goa Kingfisher villa
Show comments