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Representation in Ireland
News article21 January 2022Representation in Ireland1 min read

Ireland in the heart of Europe: 50 years since the signing of the Accession Treaty

On 22 January 1972 at a ceremony in the Egmont Palace in Brussels, Ireland signed its Accession Treaty to join the European Economic Community (EEC), which today is the European Union.

 Signing of the accession treaty for Ireland:Patrick Hillery, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Taoiseach Jack Lynch

The Treaty was signed by the then Taoiseach Jack Lynch and the Minister for Foreign Affairs Patrick Hillery, who went on to become Ireland’s first European Commissioner.

Mairead McGuinness, European Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union, said:

Treaties are always historical highpoints, and Ireland’s Accession Treaty is one of the most important milestones in our history. It brought the country into the European family allowing Irish people’s talents, ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirt to blossom into building better lives and a prosperous, secure future. Never has Ireland been more at the heart of Europe than it is now, with all the responsibilities and benefits that go with EU membership. All this started with the Accession Treaty signed on this day 50 years ago.

Ireland first applied for EU membership in 1961 and again in 1967.  The Accession Treaty followed a period of intense negotiations, which began in September 1970. The Accession Treaty was subsequently widely endorsed by a large majority of the Irish people at a Referendum held on 10 May 1972.Turnout was high at 70.3% and four out of five people (83.09% of the electorate) voted in favour. Ireland joined the EEC on 1 January 1973.

Joining the EU has had a major impact on almost every aspect of Irish life, from how Irish people live, work, travel and shop to the quality of environment, opportunities for learning and access to the single market of 450 million people.

A short educational film - ‘Me, You and the EU’ – provides more information on the impact of EU membership on Ireland. It is available here. Irish teenagers from across the country ask key questions about the EU. Viewers follow them on their journey to discover more about the history of the EU and how Ireland’s EU membership impacts their daily lives.


More information

More information on the impact of EU membership on Ireland can be found here.


Publication date
21 January 2022
Representation in Ireland