What do you mean 'joining'?
We in the UK are already full members of the EU.
The new treaty which has been drawn up is in large part one to streamline and update a whole host of lesser older treaties which were designed when
the EEC/EU had a 7, 9, 12, 15 etc etc member composition.
Now we are 27 it ought to be obvious that many of those older treaties need updating.
At some stage someone thought it would be memorable (IMO very ill-advisedly) to use the term 'constitution' in relation to the treaty in it's early
That earlier treaty was rejected by the people's of France and Holland.
A new treaty was devised. The Lisbon Treaty.
In this new treaty the UK Gov negotiated opt-outs and the so-called red lines
the UK guarantees about the limit of the EU & the UK's competence in relation to certain areas of law and procedure.
It should also be noted that the UK was not alone ion negotiating opt-outs either; Poland & Denmark did so too.
Because of these significant differences, the new guarantees and the other various changes between this new version of the treaty and the previous
early one (the rejected one) the UK Gov has decided the place to debate and examine this is in the UK Parliament, not a public referendum.
(which is kind of ironic cos those calling for a referendum supposedly want British law decided and debating like this in The British Parliament).
The UK Gov has set aside 3 months Parliamentary time for this to get a proper debating.
The sad truth is that many of those calling for a referendum are not really interested in the extent or limit of the EU/UK Gov's powers.
What this is really about is that there are those who think it's a good wheeze to prevent the will of the duly elected democratic Gov of the UK being
Referenda are not particularly 'democratic' (every dictator that ever was loves them dearly - and for good - to them - reason) and they are
certainly not the 'traditional' basis on which the Gov of the UK has ever operated
(which is ironic again considering so many of the opponents calling for a referendum would claim to be 'British traditionalists - what ever that's
supposed to mean) .
Those interested in further reading & an article examining the claims of each side in this might like a look
There are some viewpoints that make interesting reading here
and there's a decent Q&A
from the BBC here
[edit on 6-2-2008 by sminkeypinkey]