The UK in the EU

As the debate on the UK’s membership of the EU intensifies, more and more people are stepping forward and making the case in favour of EU membership. See what they say


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Lisbon Treaty

"We believe it would be fitting in the EU's 50th anniversary year for the union to agree the changes outlined in the draft reform treaty. These proposals have been precipitated by an increase in EU members from 15 in 2004 to 27 today. These enlargements have been successful, bringing in 10 former communist countries of eastern Europe to the EU fold. Any large business or other organisation which almost doubled its membership in such a short space of time would have to alter its rules and modus operandi. There is no doubt that if the EU didn't address the impact of new members on its institutions, it would be severely criticised.

The draft treaty is in Britain's interests as well as the EU's because it will lead to more efficient, effective and democratic decision-making. Ratification of the treaty by all 27 EU states will help the union to focus on the issues that really matter, including a deeper single market and climate change. It is this agenda, rather than excessive debate about institutional reform, that should occupy the EU's energies in the years ahead."

The European Movement in the Letter "EU reform Treaty is best for Britain", The Guardian, 12 September 2007.


Further reading

The Lisbon Treaty - formerly known as the Reform Treaty - is the culmination of seven years of debate and negotiation about the future of Europe.  It was agreed at the summit in Lisbon on 19 October 2007 and was formally signed on 13 December 2007. It came into force on 1st December 2009.

Find the full text of the treaty and summaries by clicking here

Visit the latest official news on the Lisbon Treaty by clicking here

Other texts on the Lisbon Treaty:

NEW!! The Lisbon Treaty in practice, written by the Senior Expert Group - click here

The future of the EU after the Lisbon Treaty, written by Richard Laming - click here

The European Union Reform Treaty, published by Unlock Democracy - click here

The Lisbon Treaty, 10 easy-to-read factsheets, published by the Fondation Robert Schuman - click here

The Reform Treaty for the European Union, written by the Senior Experts Group - click here

Positive points about the Treaty of Lisbon, written by the Senior Experts Group - click here

The EU beyond the Lisbon Treaty: An agenda for action, written by the Senior Experts Group - click here

True guide to the Lisbon Treaty, written by Andrew Duff MEP - click here



The Lisbon treaty has been signed and ratified by the 27 EU member states. It came into force on 1st December 2009.

The last EU countries to sign the treaty were Poland on 10th October 2009 and Czech Republic on 3rd November 2009.


Second Irish Referendum - October 2009

On 2nd October 2009, Ireland approved by referendum the Lisbon Treaty by 67.1% (an increase of around 20% compared to the June 2008 referendum). 32.9% voted against. The turnout was of 58% (an increase of around 6%).

For more information:

Visit our blog and react on the results! What does this mean for you? What does this mean for Britain and for the European Union?


Ireland, the European Union and the Lisbon Treaty

After Ireland rejected the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum in June 2008, the European Union was forced to stop and think. The EU is founded on popular consent: what happens if that consent is withdrawn? What can the EU do, in listening to the No voters, to satisfy their concerns?

The announcement of a second referendum in the Irish Republic raised protests among eurosceptics but most importantly offered a new chance of getting Europe out of the crisis and starting on solid and healthy basis.

Ireland has traditionally been a europhile country (according to the latest Eurobarometer that took place in October 2008, 67% of Irish population thinks EU membership is ‘good’) and has fully been enjoying all the advantages of being part of the European Union.

Ireland joined the European Economic Community (the ancestor of the European Union) in 1973, as part of the second wave of membership, together with the UK and Denmark.

The country has greatly benefited from its membership and has experienced a huge transformation in political, economic and social terms, thanks to the European Union.

According to the Irish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, around 700 000 jobs were created during the year of membership, and trade increased 90 fold as Ireland got access to the EU’s internal market (a market of 500 million people today).

Ireland receives direct financial help from the Europe Union: being initially considered as a less prosperous country, Ireland received, for the period 2000-2006, €3.9bn (around £3.45bn) through the Structural and Cohesion Fund, and is receiving, for the period 2007-2013, the smaller amount of €750 million (around £660 million), due to the country’s economic success. In total, it has received €17bn (around £15bn) since 1973, invested in infrastructure, research and development or programmes to promote social inclusion. It is believed that EU funding increased Irish GNP by around 2%.

Ireland, as any other member state of the European Union, benefits from greater power on the international stage and its citizens have the same rights as other European citizens in terms of moving, working, and residing freely within the territory of another EU member state. Ireland is an active player within the European Union and has the same status as other EU member states, including much bigger ones, at the European Commission and the European Council.

As part of the EU, Ireland has always been a perfect example of all the advantages a European country could have. It is also true for Spain and Portugal. So what happened in June 2008 when the Irish decided to reject the Lisbon Treaty?

On 12 June 2008, the Irish voted No to the Lisbon treaty by 53.4% to 46.6%. This vote has delayed the implementation of the Treaty. Of the 27 European member states, only Ireland is constitutionally obliged to approve it through a referendum, which puts more pressure on its government and its people.

There was criticism by some opponents of the Lisbon treaty that there was to be a second referendum, but it was not unprecedented: other controversial issues such as divorce and abortion have been the subjects of repeated referendums. In the case of the Lisbon treaty, after the first referendum, the Irish government sought to investigate whether it was possible to reframe the debate in order to have a second vote.

Research and surveys showed that the main reason why the Irish voted against the Treaty the first time was a lack of information and knowledge about the treaty (the turnout was only 53%), along with several concerns on taxation, abortion, security and defence issues, workers’ rights and public services. The fear of losing influence within the European Commission through the reform proposed in the treaty as well as a flagging economy at the time of the referendum can also explain the ‘no’ vote. The Irish government consequently obtained a series of guarantees in order to be able to hold a second referendum, hoping to obtain a positive result the second time. These guarantees were approved at the June 2009 European Council.

The decision taken during the European Council is legally binding and doesn’t stipulate a second ratification for the countries that have already done so. When the Lisbon treaty eventually enters into force, the guarantees will be gathered in a protocol annexed to the Treaties.


Reactions after the June 2008 Irish Referendum

What would a second Irish referendum solve?

A second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland would only reinforce the idea that referendums do not really count, says Richard Laming, Director of Federal Union and Secretary of the European Movement. Read more at Euobserver 

Three main themes that each generated a ‘national fear’ for the Irish people about the EU

The Irish feared of losing too much, of being bullied and hoodwinked, says Shane Molloy, European Movement Ireland Chairman. Read more by clicking here

EU failed to sell Lisbon Treaty

The Treaty was a complicated document that most people found virtually impossible to fully grasp, and governments throughout Europe made little or no attempt to explain its relatively simple but important aims, says Peter Valentine, Chair East Midlands EM. Read more by clicking here.

Lisbon Treaty - the way ahead

The European Movement International adopted a resolution on the occasion of the last Steering Committee meeting held in Brussels on June 27th. It focuses particularly on the way forward following the Irish failure to ratify the treaty on June 12th. Read more by clicking here (text available in english and french).


The European Movement and the Coalition for a Reform Treaty

The Europan Movement is an active supporter of the Coalition for the Reform Treaty, launched at the beginning of September with numerous other organisations such as:

Business for New Europe, Federal Union, Policy Network, Labour Movement for Europe, Liberal Democrat European Group, Foreign Policy Centre, Demos, or Progress.

Have a look on the website of the Coalition at ! 

You will find out numerous analysis and comments over the Treaty and you will be updated about the various events, conferences and seminars organised by all the supporters of the Coalition.




Foreign Affairs; Climate Change;

Development Policy; EU Institutions.

Some of the Coalition's publications:

A Guide to the Lisbon Treaty, published by the Coalition - click here (pdf file)

Treaty Boost for Expanding EU, letter published by the Coalition in The Guardian newspaper, 21 January 2008 - click here

Reform Treaty: Good for Britain good for Europe, briefing published by the Coalition, October 2007 - click here (pdf file)

The EU Treaty, Reform or More of the Same? published by the Coalition, October 2007 - click here (pdf file)


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