International Week 2017

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EU-referendums put treaties and trust to the test

Monday, 6th of February |  14:00 - 14:45

EU-referendums put treaties and trust to the test

Joost van den Akker (NL) is a lecturer in European Studies at Zuyd University of Applied Sciences in Maastricht and at the reseach group Law in Europe. In autumn 2012 Joost has started as a PhD researcher on Governmental Action in EU-related referendums at the University of Twente. In 2015 he received a ‘PhD Scholarship for Teachers’ grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) to support his research. He completed a Masters in both European Studies and European Law School at Maastricht University, including exchange semesters at the LMU in Munich and the RWTH university in Aachen. In 2008 Joost worked as trainee account officer at the European Parliament's Information Office in The Hague.​ Commissioned by the City of Maastricht, in 2006-2007 he wrote the jubilee book “Maastricht the treaty” on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the Maastricht Treaty.

EU-referendums put treaties and trust to the test

Referendums on EU-matters have become a normal phenomenon. Between 1972 and 2016, no less than 61 referendums related to the European integration process were held in 28 different countries. The issues concerned include membership of the European Union, the introduction of the Euro and the ratification of EU treaties. So far most governments managed to achieve a successful referendum outcome: in 3/4 of the cases the citizens followed their advice. Particularly since the Maastricht Treaty, however, the frequency and topics of referendums reflected more public resistance. As both citizens and governments have 'discovered' the referendum instrument as tool to maximize their influence on EU policy making, more plebiscites are expected. How should Europe overcome this ‘referendum threat’?