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European Union Act 2011

Government Bill

Originated in the House of Commons, Session 2010-12

Last updated: 10 November 2011 at 11:57

See full passage

Long title

To make provision about treaties relating to the European Union and decisions made under them, including provision implementing the Protocol signed at Brussels on 23 June 2010 amending the Protocol (No. 36) on transitional provisions annexed to the Treaty on European Union, to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and to the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community; and to make provision about the means by which directly applicable or directly effective European Union law has effect in the United Kingdom.


The Bill aims to strengthen the UK procedures for agreeing to or ratifying certain EU decisions and Treaty changes. The Bill has been drafted in the context of new EU methods of approving Treaty changes and calls for more public and/or parliamentary involvement in such decisions.

Key areas

  • Provides for a referendum throughout the United Kingdom on any proposed EU treaty or Treaty change which would transfer powers from the UK to the EU
  • Ensures that an Act of Parliament would have to be passed before a ‘ratchet clause’ or a passerelle (bridging clause) in the European Union Treaty could be used. In addition, if the passerelle involved a transfer of power or competence from the UK to the EU, this would also be subject to a referendum before the Government could agree to its use
  • Enables the UK to ratify a Protocol to allow additional European Parliament seats for the UK and 11 other Member States during the current European Parliament term, and to legislate for the extra UK seat
  • Provides for a clause that affirms that EU law takes effect in the UK only because Parliament wills that it should. This confirms the principle that Parliament is sovereign.

Sponsoring departments

Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Mr William Hague
Conservative, Richmond (Yorks)
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Lord Howell of Guildford
Conservative, Life peer

Current version of the Bill

European Union Act 2011 c.12
21 July 2011

Bill passage

Bill started in the House of Commons
1st reading
2nd reading
Committee stage
Report stage
3rd reading
Bill in the House of Lords
1st reading
2nd reading
Committee stage
Report stage
3rd reading
Final stages
Consideration of amendments
Royal Assent
In progress
Not applicable
Not yet reached