Referendums related to the European Union
This article is part of a series on the
- 1 Enlargement of 1973
- 2 Single European Act
- 3 Maastricht Treaty
- 4 Enlargement of 1995
- 5 Treaty of Amsterdam
- 6 Treaty of Nice
- 7 Enlargement of 2004
- 8 Euro
- 9 European Constitution
- 10 Treaty of Lisbon
- 11 Enlargement of 2013
- 12 Fiscal Compact referendum
- 13 Future enlargements
- 14 Agreements between Switzerland and the EU
- 15 References
Enlargement of 1973
- France - Before allowing the new candidate member states to join the European Communities, founding member France held a referendum on 23 April 1972. The turnout was 60.7%, with 68.3% in favour.
- Ireland - 83.1% in favour (10 May 1972)
- Norway - 53.5% against (25 September 1972)
- Denmark - 63.3% in favour (2 October 1972)
Following the rejection by the Norwegian electorate (53.5% against), Norway did not join.
- United Kingdom The Conservative government of Edward Heath did not hold a referendum before the United Kingdom joined. Labour's manifesto for the 1974 general election included a pledge for a referendum, so after Labour won under Harold Wilson, the referendum was held on whether to remain in the Communities. The result was 67.2% in favour, with a turnout of 64.0%.
- Greenland In 1973, Greenland joined the European communities as part if Denmark. However, after the establishment of home-rule and eurosceptic Siumut winning the 1979 Greenlandic parliamentary election, a referendum on membership was agreed upon, in which 53.02% of voters rejected remaining part of the communities. In 1984, Greenland officially left the communities.
Single European Act
- Denmark On 26 February 1986, Denmark held a referendum on the Single European Act. With a turnout of 74.8%, the 56.2% of those voting were in favour.
- Ireland The Tenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland permitted Ireland to ratify the Single European Act. It was approved by referendum on 26 May 1987. The result of the referendum was 69.9% in favour.
Result was a majority of 68.7% in favour. Turnout was 57.31%.
The treaty was verified with a slim margin of victory of 51.1% in favour. Turnout was 69.7%.
In Denmark, two referendums had to be held before the treaty of Maastricht passed. The first was held on 2 June 1992, had a turnout of 82.9% but approval of the treaty of Maastricht was denied by a slim margin, with only 49.3% in favour of the treaty.
After that defeat of the treaty, Denmark negotiated and received the following four opt-outs from portions of the treaty: Economic and Monetary Union, Union Citizenship, Justice and Home Affairs and Common Defense. A new referendum was held on 18 May 1993. There was a turnout of 85.5% of which the 56.8% voted in favour of the renegotiated treaty.
Enlargement of 1995
The 1994 referendums on membership of four new nations were as follows:
- Austria - 66.6% in favour (12 June 1994)
- Finland - 56.9% in favour (16 October 1994)
- Sweden - 52.8% in favour (13 November 1994)
- Norway - 52.2% against (28 November 1994)
The Åland Islands, a dependency belonging to Finland, also voted (20 November 1994) on their accession to the European Union. With a turnout of 49.1% the result was 73.6% in favour, which means that EU law would also apply to the Åland Islands.
Treaty of Amsterdam
Result was a majority of 61.74% in favour. Turnout was 56.2%.
Result was a majority of 55.1% in favour. Turnout was 76.2%.
Treaty of Nice
- Ireland - Irish referendums on Treaty of Nice
Enlargement of 2004
In 2004 the new enlargement of the European Union involved ten new member states, eight from Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Cyprus. Referendums about the accession were held in each of these nations, with the exception of Cyprus.
The 2003 referendums dates (in four of the countries, a two-day ballot is held), and the outcomes in each of the candidate countries, are as follows:
- Malta - 53.6% in favour (8 March 2003)
- Slovenia - 89.6% in favour (23 March 2003)
- Hungary - 83.7% in favour (12 April 2003)
- Lithuania - 89.9% in favour (10–11 May 2003)
- Slovakia - 92.5% in favour, turnout 52.1% (16–17 May 2003)
- Poland - 77.5% in favour (7–8 June 2003)
- Czech Republic - 77.3% in favour (13–14 June 2003)
- Estonia - 66.8% in favour, turnout 64,1% (14 September 2003)
- Latvia - 67.0% in favour (20 September 2003)
Since the referendums results were all in favour of joining, ratification proceeded without problems and the candidate countries became full members of the EU on 1 May 2004.
Denmark and the United Kingdom received opt-outs from the Maastricht Treaty and do not have to join the euro until they choose to do so; Sweden has not received an opt-out, yet refuses to join for now, as well. Two referendums have been held on the issue up to now, both of which failed:
- Denmark - 53.2% against, turnout 87.6% on 28 September 2000
- Sweden - 56.1% against, turnout 81.2% on 14 September 2003
Several member states used or intended to use referendums to ratify the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (TCE).
The results were as follows:
- Spain - 76.7% in favour (20 February 2005)
- France - 54.9% against (29 May 2005)
- Netherlands - 61.5% against (1 June 2005)
- Luxembourg - 56.5% in favour (10 July 2005)
Referendums were planned, but not held, in:
- Czech European Constitution referendum
- Danish European Constitution referendum
- Irish European Constitution referendum
- Polish European Constitution referendum
- Portuguese European Constitution referendum
- United Kingdom European Constitution referendum
Treaty of Lisbon
Since the vote by the Republic of Ireland on the Lisbon Treaty, the European Commission has stated that the Treaty would not force Ireland to change its view on issues such as having a permanent (as opposed to rotating) commissioner, military neutrality and abortion. The Irish voted again on the Lisbon Treaty on 2 October 2009. The vote was 67.1% in favour of the treaty.
Some have criticised the decision to hold a second Irish vote for a couple of reasons. Main opposition in the European Union comes from the United Kingdom Independence Party who argue the Irish public were ignored over their original vote and were being forced to vote again. UKIP also states that the concessions made to Ireland in relation to the Lisbon Treaty "are not worth the paper they are on and have no legal standing".
Others have argued that, as Ireland itself decided to hold a second referendum provided it obtained certain guarantees, and it indeed obtained such guarantees on issues such as abortion not being affected by the Treaty, it was perfectly acceptable for the Irish people to vote again on the Lisbon Treaty with the concessions in mind, especially given that every other Member State had approved the treaty It was not unreasonable to ask the single country that rejected it to reconsider, especially in light of the guarantees offered.
Enlargement of 2013
Fiscal Compact referendum
- Ireland - European Fiscal Compact referendum, 60.3% in favour (31 May 2012)
Countries which seek to join the European Union in the future may hold a referendum as part of the accession process. In addition, Article 88-5 of the Constitution of France requires a referendum there to ratify any future accession treaty. Politicians in other existing members have proposed referendums in their states, particularly with reference to the accession of Turkey.
Agreements between Switzerland and the EU
- Switzerland - Agreement with the EC - 1972 (72,53 % in favour)
- Switzerland - EEA Agreement with the EU - 1992 (50,34 % against)
- Switzerland - Bilateral agreements with the EU - 2000 (67,19 % % in favour)
- Switzerland - Apply for EU membership - 2001 (76,85 % against)
- Switzerland - Schengen Agreement - 2005 (54,60 % in favour)
- Switzerland - Freedom of movement for workers, to include new EU countries - 2009 (59,62 % in favour)
- Switzerland - Freedom of movement for workers to be reduced - 2014 (50,3 % in favour)
- "Constitution of 4 October 1958". National Assembly of France. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
Article 88-5: Any legislative proposal authorising the ratification of a Treaty pertaining to the accession of a State to the European Union and to the European Communities shall be submitted to referendum by the President of the Republic.