Irish Parliament in Dublin (Photo: Irish Government)

Ireland has a population of 3.9 million and an area of 70,000 km2. It joined the EU in 1973 together with the UK and Denmark.

At present, it has 3 out of 87 votes and 15 out of 626 seats in the EU Parliament. It delayed the coming into force of the Single European Act and the internal market by six months because of a legal challenge to how constitutional its mode of ratification was, in the Crotty case in 1987. 

The Irish citizens voted “No” in a popular referendum on the Treaty of Nice on 7th June 2001 and thereby blocked the ratification process - all new EU Treaties must be ratified in all countries to come into force. Ireland was the only country to let the Nice Treaty be put to a vote.

The government secured continued Irish neutrality, introduced a system of parliamentarian control and organised a special forum for discussing Irish EU policy. With this background, in October 2002 a second referendum was held under different rules and with a different question. 62.89% of the votes were now in favour of ratifying the Nice Treaty since another "No" was presented as a rejection of EU enlargement.


Ireland has the EU Presidency the first half of 2004.

The future

After the first enlargement of the EU, Ireland will have 7 votes out of 321 in the Council and 13 seats out of 732 in the EU Parliament.