The EU and referendums: A history
Accession to the European UnionSome countries have held a referendum prior to joining the EU. States such as Denmark, Ireland, Poland and Croatia had such votes on taking up EU membership (all of which were approved). By contrast, Norway has held two referendums on joining the EU (in 1972 and 1994), both of which rejected membership.
EU Treaty ChangeProbably the most high-profile EU referendums have been on major EU treaty revision – particularly when voters have rejected proposed changes. Denmark voted down the Treaty of Maastricht, and Ireland the Treaty of Lisbon. Both countries received concessions, and voters subsequently approved the treaties in a second referendum. After France and the Netherlands rejected the Constitutional Treaty, however, it was abandoned (although the Treaty of Lisbon incorporated many of its provisions).
New PoliciesStates have also held referendums on adopting particular EU policies. Sweden had a vote on joining the euro (rejected), Ireland on the Fiscal Compact (approved) and Denmark on justice and home affairs policies (rejected).
Future ReferendumsFurther referendums related to the EU could take place in the future. In Ireland, major EU treaty change requires a constitutional amendment, which must be approved by a referendum. If the UK were to remain a member of the EU, the European Union Act 2011 requires a referendum in the UK in the event of a further significant transfer of powers to the EU. France also has constitutional provisions to hold a referendum before any new member can join the EU.
Towards Brexit? The UK's EU Referendum
Our purpose is to transform access to education.
We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.
We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.