Twice, in 1972 and in 1994, the Norwegian government had tried to join the EU (still the EEC, in 1973) and by doing so, leave the EFTA. However, both the times, the membership of the EU was rejected in national referendums, keeping Norway in the EFTA. Iceland applied for EU membership in 2009 due to the 2008–2011 Icelandic financial crisis, but has since dropped its bid.[10]


Which is the most recent European country that joined the EU without a referendum? I was surprised that the Norwegian government even let its population decide whether to join or not join the EU, so I was wondering if this was a common practice and if it is I was also wondering which country was the latest to have joined the EU without a referendum.

  • 1
    It is worth noting that Norway does not have constitutional support (or any other legal status) for national referendums. Therefore, a norwegian referendum is, in essence, merely an elaborate poll. The legal effect of a referendum varies greatly among european countries, but that is the subject of a different question.
    – Guran
    Jan 11 at 8:29
  • @Guran It's worth noting, but not really that important, since any competent government would demand a referendum for something this big. Even Britain's incompetent government held one. Jan 12 at 0:08

1 Answer 1


Both Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU on 1 January 2007 without a referendum.

Since then, only Croatia has joined the EU (1 July 2013) and Croatia did have a referendum (2012).

See Referendums related to the European Union.

  • 2
    @Ccm: I am unable to find any 2001 referendum. You may instead be referring to the 2003 constitutional referendum, which made many changes to Romania's constitution, including a few that facilitated EU accession. But this was not a referendum that directly asked its population "whether to join or not join the EU" (OP's question). Such referendums did take place in Croatia and many other European countries, but not in Romania.
    – user182601
    Jan 11 at 7:33
  • Sorry, editing on the go and accidentally deleted comment lol. The referendum did take place in 2003. The Wikipedia page is incomplete. The modifications added the possibility to adhere with 2/3 of parliament votes, and added an article which says EU law is above Romanian law. This is equivalent to a yes/no referendum in practice to the EU ascension, as without those disposition, the ascension wouldn't be possible.
    – Ccm
    Jan 11 at 9:44
  • Of the first twelve members, only Denmark held a referendum. Since then, only three countries joined without a referendum: (the Republic of) Cyprus in 2004, Bulgaria and Romania in 2007. I disagree with @Ccm that the 2003 referendum on the amendment of the Romanian constitution was a decision on EU membership. The new article 145¹, p. 20 says: "Romania’s accession to the constituent treaties of the European Union...shall be carried out by means of a law adopted [by both chambers of parliament]." They could have decided not to join.
    – ccprog
    Jan 11 at 15:59
  • Regarding Cyprus: Ahead of the 2004 referendum on the Cypriot Annan plan, the EU had decided that, dependent on its outcome, either the (southern) Republic would become a member, or the United Republic under a new constitution. That meant the referendum only decided whether the northern Turkish part of the island could join the EU, while membership of the south was not in question.
    – ccprog
    Jan 11 at 16:00
  • @ccprog the people could have rejected the referendum, defacto being a NO to the ascension.
    – Ccm
    Jan 11 at 16:55

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