Referendums related to the European Union

"EU referendum" redirects here. For the 2016 referendum on the UK's membership of the EU, see United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016.
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This is a list of referendums related to the European Union or its predecessors the European Communities. Since 1972 a total of 44 referendums have been held by EU member states and its territories, with several additional referendums held in countries outside of the EU. Most commonly the referendums have been held on whether to become a member of European Union as part of the accession process, although the EU does not require any candidate country to hold a referendum to approve membership or as part of treaty ratification. EU-related referendums have also been held on the adoption of the euro and participation in other EU related policies.

The United Kingdom is the only EU member state to have held a referendum on the issue of continued membership. In the first referendum in 1975, continued membership was approved by 67% of voters, while in its second referendum in 2016 voters voted by 51.9% to leave the European Union. Greenland, an autonomous territory of Denmark, voted to leave the EEC in a referendum in 1982 by 53% of voters.

Enlargement of 1973

Following that approval, three of the four candidate states (Ireland, Denmark, Norway) likewise held referendums on the issue of joining the European Communities. The results were:

Following the rejection by the Norwegian electorate (53.5% against), Norway did not join.

United Kingdom's EEC membership, 1975

Greenland's EEC membership, 1982

Single European Act

Maastricht Treaty

Before the negotiations on the treaty of Maastricht began, Italy held a consultative referendum in order to give the European Parliament a popular mandate to elaborate a future European Constitution.

Result was a majority of 88.1% in favour. Turnout was 81.0%.

After the treaty was signed, three countries held referendums on its ratification: France, Ireland and Denmark.

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 were held before the treaty of Maastricht passed. The first was held on 2 June 1992, had a turnout of 82.9% with approval of the treaty of Maastricht denied by a slim margin of 50,7%, with 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 Defence. 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 treaty with the opt-outs.

Enlargement of 1995

The 1994 referendums on membership of four new nations were as follows:

Austria, Sweden and Finland were admitted on 1 January 1995. As the referendum in Norway was 52.2% against joining, the proposal by the Norwegian government to join was rejected for the second time.

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, 1998

Two countries held referendums on the ratification of the treaty of Amsterdam: Ireland and Denmark.

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, 2001

In 2001 Irish voters rejected the Treaty of Nice by 53.9%, with 34.8% of the electorate voting. At a second referendum in 2002, statements on Ireland not having to join a common defence policy and affirming the right to decide on enhanced cooperation in the national parliament were stressed in a special document and they accepted the Treaty by 62.9% with 49.5% of the electorate voting.

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:

Since the referenda's results were all in favour of joining, ratification proceeded 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 unless they choose to do so; Sweden has not received an opt-out, yet deliberately doesn't live up to the requirements for joining for now. Two referendums have been held on the issue up to now, both of which rejected accession:

European Constitution, 2005

Several member states used or intended to use referendums to ratify the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (TCE).

The results were as follows:

Referendums were planned, but not held, in:

Treaty of Lisbon

Only one member state, Ireland, obliged by their constitution, decided on ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon through a referendum, and rejected the treaty a first time.

After the first vote by Ireland on the Lisbon Treaty, the European Council and the Irish Government released separate documents, referred to as "The Irish Guarantees", that stated the other member countries would not use the possibility in the Treaty to diminish the number of permanent commissioners in favour of a rotating system with fewer commissioners, and not threaten Ireland's military neutrality and rules on abortion.[1][2] With these assurances, the Irish voted again on the unchanged Lisbon Treaty on 2 October 2009. The vote was then 67.1% in favour of the treaty.

Enlargement of 2013

European Fiscal Compact, 2012

Unified Patent Court

A proposed court between several EU member states, that – amongst others – is to be constituted for litigation related to the European Union patent

Greek bailout referendum, 2015

A majority of 61% rejected the bailout conditions. However, shortly afterwards the government accepted a bailout with even harsher conditions than the one rejected.

Danish European Union opt-out referendum, 2015

Dutch Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement referendum, 2016

Consultative referendum based on the Consultative Referendum Act 2015 upon a request of 427,939 Dutch citizens.

United Kingdom's EU membership, 2016

Hungarian migrant quota referendum, 2016

Future enlargements

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.[4] Politicians in other existing members have proposed referendums in their states, particularly with reference to the accession of Turkey.

There is discussion amongst eurosceptic parties and movements across the EU to hold their own referendums on EU membership since the referendum in the UK.[5]

Agreements between Switzerland and the EU


  1. Institute of European Affairs, (2009) Lisbon: The Irish Guarantees Explained, Dublin, Retrieved 28 June 2016
  2. Protocol on the Concerns of the Irish People on the Treaty of Lisbon,(2013) Official Journal of the European Union, n° L 60, pp. 131–139, Retrieved 28 June 2016
  3. The Conservative Party Manifesto 2015 (PDF). Conservative Party. p. 30. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
  4. Nationale, Assemblée. "Welcome to the english website of the French National Assembly – Assemblée nationale". Retrieved 2016-02-03.
  5. "EU referendum: Brexit sparks calls for other EU votes". BBC News. 2016-06-24. Retrieved 2016-11-12.
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