Following a Supreme Court ruling Ireland must ratify the Single European Act by a referendum.

The Single European Act (SEA) presents a common ideal and a collective European destiny for community members growing more disillusioned with the European Economic Community's (EEC) lack of direction. While the rest of the EEC has chosen to accept the SEA, Ireland will go to the polls next week to decide.

Ahead of the referendum, Today Tonight examines what the SEA involves and why it is being introduced.

The original community of six members established under the 1957 Treaty of Rome, expanded in 1973 to nine members with the inclusion of Denmark, Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. Greece joined in 1981 followed by Spain and Portugal in 1986.

The community has effectively doubled in 15 years to 12 countries with 320 million people.

As the community grew, the original decision making and funding arrangements were no longer fit for purpose. Also, little progress had been made on the original goal of a free internal market and economic and political union.

The SEA sets out to complete the internal EEC market by 1992 allowing for free movement of goods and capital, tax harmonisation, social measures for less developed member states, voting rights, and the formalising of the European foreign policy.

For Ireland, the economic arguments to membership have always appeared strong as net beneficiaries of EEC funds. The SEA will see a doubling in structural funds from which Ireland benefits. So, what is the price for membership in terms of sovereignty lost through increased foreign policy cooperation?

Taoiseach Charles Haughey and Commissioner Peter Sutherland believe the way to encourage a yes vote in the referendum is by stressing the economic benefits to Ireland. Speaking at a conference of the business community, Peter Sutherland stresses that economic development for Ireland can only take place in a wider world.

We live in a wider world and it's that wider world that we must show commitment to.

The SEA gives the EEC five years to complete economic union and the free market. The SEA also commits to the political union of Europe, something which was set out in the Treaty of Rome 30 years ago.

This episode of 'Today Tonight' was broadcast on 19 May 1987. The presenter is Olivia O'Leary and the reporter is Paul Blanchfield.