The EU ratifies Kyoto (Photo: Spanish Presidency)
Ratification is the confirmation of an already agreed text.
Treaties have to be ratified by the Member States in accordance with the contents of their respective constitutions.
Even if a treaty has been signed on behalf of a state or a number of states, it is not legally binding until all the states that have signed declare formally that they have ratified it. Treaties are ratified either by a majority vote of the national parliament or by referenda. In addition, for a treaty to be binding the period specified within the treaty for its coming into force must have expired.

The future

Many members of the EU Convention on the Future of Europe have proposed that the adoption of an EU Constitution should be followed by referenda in each Member State before it can be ratified. However, some Member States, such as Britain, do not acknowledge this advice. Therefore, this requirement has not been inserted into the draft Constitution.

If, after 2 years, a few Member States still haven't ratified it, the European Council has to deal with the issue.


See also Referendum and Instruments of Ratification.