Contemporary context

The European Union (EU) continues to play an important role in the UK’s trading relations with its European neighbours and the rest of the world. As well as monitoring international economic relations—in which the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee and the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee and EU Sub-Committee on Financial Affairs play a key role—Parliament continues to ratify changes to the governance of the EU.

Treaty of Lisbon

The Treaty of Lisbon, for example, was an international agreement signed in Lisbon on 13 December 2007 which changed the workings of the EU, amending both the Treaty on European Union (Maastricht) and the Treaty establishing the European Community (Rome). The Lisbon Treaty amended the latter to become the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Although most Member States, including the UK, have ratified the Lisbon Treaty (the UK Parliament via the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008), its future remains uncertain.

On 23 January 2013, former Prime Minister David Cameron announced that a Conservative Government would hold an in/out referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union. On 23 June 2016, the referendum took place. Results revealed that 51.89 percent of voters opted for the UK to leave the European Union.

Page last updated September 2016.