Background to the UK’s EU referendum 2016

This Commons Library page sets out relevant reports and briefings that relate to the UK's EU referendum 2016. The page includes links to the relevant legislation as well as background to the negotiations.

People eligible to vote must be over 18 years old, and at least one of the following:

  • A British or Irish citizen resident in the UK
  • A qualifying Commonwealth citizen
  • A British citizen who is a service voter or overseas voter (British citizens may register as overseas voters for up to 15 years after leaving the UK)
  • A Member of the House of Lords
  • An Irish or Commonwealth citizen who would be entitled to vote in European elections in Gibraltar

The choice of franchise (Section 2 of the European Union Referendum Act 2015) excludes citizens of other EU countries resident in the UK (but EU citizens from Cyprus and Malta resident in the UK qualify as Commonwealth citizens, and Irish citizens resident in the UK are also included in the franchise).

  • European Union Referendum Bill
    This Lords Library Note provides background reading for the Bill, debated at 2nd Reading in the House of Lords on 13 October 2015.

  • EU referendum: reform negotiations June to December 2015
    This note looks at the launch of the UK reform agenda at the European Council in June 2015, bilateral talks with other EU leaders, EU institutional initiatives which might be relevant to the Government's reforms and other developments.

  • Prime Minister’s Speech on Europe
    This Lords Library Note provides a short history of Prime Ministerial speeches on Europe since 1970 and outlines Government policy towards Europe since 2010. It summarises David Cameron’s speech and selected reaction to it; and considers some aspects of the proposed renegotiation and referendum.

  • About the European Union - Lords Library note
    Outlines the history and development of the EU and explains the key treaties that led to its formation. It describes the enlargement of the Union and gives a brief overview of the major European institutions.


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