ireland Joins The European Union (EU)

ireland & Eu Flag

Ireland’s journey to the European Union (EU) was not straightforward, but it culminated in the country joining the bloc in 1973. Ireland’s membership of the EU was a significant milestone in the country’s history, as it marked a shift from a traditionally inward-looking country to a more open and outward-looking one.

Ireland’s Path to the EU

Ireland’s relationship with the EU can be traced back to 1957 when the Treaty of Rome was signed. However, at the time, Ireland was not interested in joining the then-European Economic Community (EEC), which was founded by the treaty. Ireland was more focused on developing its own economy, and joining a trading bloc was not a priority. It was not until the 1960s that Ireland began to see the benefits of joining the EEC.

In 1961, the Irish government applied to join the EEC, but its application was vetoed by France. The French President, Charles de Gaulle, was against the idea of admitting Britain, Ireland, and Denmark to the EEC because he believed that they would be too closely aligned with the United States. It was not until de Gaulle left office in 1969 that Ireland’s application was reconsidered.

The Benefits of EU Membership for Ireland

Joining the EU was a significant step for Ireland, and it brought many benefits. The most obvious benefit was access to the EU’s single market, which allowed Irish businesses to sell their goods and services to other EU countries without facing tariffs or other trade barriers. This opened up new opportunities for Irish companies and helped to boost the country’s economy.

EU membership also brought significant financial benefits to Ireland. The EU provided funding for infrastructure projects, such as roads and airports, which helped to modernize the country’s economy. In addition, Ireland received funding from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, which supported farmers and rural communities.

Impact of EU Membership on Irish Society

Joining the EU had a significant impact on Irish society, too. It helped to modernize the country and bring it closer to the rest of Europe. EU membership encouraged Irish people to travel and work abroad, which broadened their horizons and exposed them to different cultures and ways of life. This led to a greater understanding of other European countries and helped to break down barriers between different cultures.

EU membership also had an impact on Ireland’s political system. As a member of the EU, Ireland had to adhere to certain standards and regulations set by the bloc. This helped to improve the country’s governance and brought it closer to the political norms of other EU countries.

Challenges Faced by Ireland in the EU

Despite the benefits of EU membership, Ireland faced some challenges in the early years of its membership. One of the biggest challenges was the impact of EU policies on Ireland’s traditional industries, such as agriculture and fishing. EU policies were designed to benefit the whole bloc, and sometimes this meant that Irish industries had to adapt to changes in regulations and standards.

Another challenge was the impact of EU membership on Irish sovereignty. Some people were concerned that joining the EU would mean giving up too much control over the country’s affairs. However, the Irish government worked hard to ensure that the country’s interests were protected within the EU.


Ireland’s journey to the EU was a long and sometimes difficult one, but it was ultimately a success. EU membership brought many benefits to Ireland, including access to the single market and financial support for infrastructure and agriculture. It also had a significant impact on Irish society, helping to modernize the country and bring it closer to the rest of Europe.

Last updated April 11, 2023.

About the Author

Dave Donnelly
Meet Dave Donnelly, a passionate Irishman with an insatiable love for music, TV, fishing, and exploring the stunning countryside of Ireland. A native of the Emerald Isle, Dave has an inherent appreciation for the rich cultural traditions and natural beauty of his homeland.