European Union

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(Most links on this page, with the exception of the link bar at the bottom, will open a new window - simply close the new window to come back here.)

Click on the EU flag to visit the main EU website (choose language area you wish to enter), or click on the flags below to go direct to a page giving brief information about each member state, and from there the link at the foot of the page will allow you to visit various national links for each member state.

This page revised: 1 February 2020
(recent updates in reverse chronological order)

- 1 February 2020: The United Kingdom (UK) ceased to be a member of the EU at 11pm GMT yesterday, 31 January 2020, from today the UK enters a "Transition Period" scheduled to end on 31 December 2020, during this period negotiations will take place between the UK and the EU to decide upon their future relationship.

- 18 August 2019: 'North Macedonia' adopted its current name officially in February 2019, having changed it from its former name of 'Macedonia' ('Republic of Macedonia') or 'Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia', to settle a long-standing dispute with Greece, one of whose northern provinces also bears the name 'Macedonia'. I have now updated the section further down this page called "Candidates for EU membership" to show this change.

- 7 April 2019: A great deal has happened in the 2+ years since I last wrote here, too much for me to have kept up with blow-by-blow recording of the details here, although I have been tweeting about this and various other topics regularly (my Twitter page can be visited here). In summary, the UK should have left the EU on 29th March 2019, but this has been extended by two weeks to 12th April 2019, but in the coming days there will perhaps be further developments. Whether we will leave on this date, or whether a further "extension" will be agreed, for the purpose of carrying on further negotiations, or whether Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, under which the decision to leave was "triggered" (this happened as predicted below, which meant we should have left two years later), might be "revoked" is anyone's guess at this stage. We will know more in coming days. My own preference is for the UK to leave on 12th April 2019, with or without an agreement, but the composition of the current House of Commons seems unlikely to allow this to happen unfortunately.

- 20 January 2017: Apart from the 'minor event' [irony alert] across the Atlantic today, with the inauguration of a new President (the 45th, President Trump) in the United States of America, there have been some major developments here too in relation to the United Kingdom (UK) and its forthcoming exit from the European Union (EU) in the past few months. In October 2016 the Prime Minister Mrs May announced that she would 'trigger' Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty (see below) no later than 31st March 2017 - you can read more about this here. Much more recently, on 17th January 2017 she delivered a major speech in which she set out 12 key areas in her plans for implementing our departure, one of which specially pleases me, that we will no longer be a part of the 'Single Market' (aka the 'protectionist cartel' of the EU) - you can read more about this here and here. (The 12 key areas referred to above include - 1. Certainty, 2. Control of our own laws, 3. Strengthen the union (referring to the four nations which together comprise the UK), 4. Maintain the Common Travel Area with Ireland, 5. Control of immigration, 6. Rights for EU nationals in Britain, and British nationals in the EU, 7. Protect workers' rights, 8. Free trade with European markets, 9. New trade agreements with other countries, 10. The best place for science and innovation, 11. Co-operation in the fight against crime and terrorism, 12. A smooth, orderly Brexit.)

- 25th July 2016 (24th June 2016) : The United Kingdom (UK) voted to leave the European Union (EU) in the referendum held on 23rd June 2016. Although this is the result I favoured, so am pleased, it has still somewhat surprised me. I wrote a blog article in my blog on 24 June with fuller details and you can read it by clicking here (details of the referendum results are in that blog article, together with external links to the BBC 'microsite' where much fuller details of the results are available, although you can go straight to that page by clicking here too). Since then, a new Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May) has rapidly been installed in the UK and whilst there was some market turbulence in the immediate aftermath of the referendum, this was very temporary indeed. Mrs May, although nominally on the 'remain' side prior to the referendum, has stated repeatedly that 'Brexit means Brexit', but it is not clear when Article 50 (see below) will be triggered; apart from anything else, it is unrealistic for anything much to happen before September at the earliest, because both in the UK and the rest of the EU we are now in the summer holiday period. The market turbulence mentioned above ended pretty quickly, and a number of major trading economies around the world have indicated their desire to conclude trading agreements with the UK rapidly once it is outside the EU and once more in a position to negotiate such deals independently. In summary, my view is that the 'scare tactics' employed by 'remain' before the referendum are already proving to be much exaggerated or completely wrong, as I always believed they were. Having said all this, it will probably be a couple of years, at least, before the UK is at last free of the clutches of the EU. I will be updating this page occasionally in coming months and years, but not in exhaustive detail, and I will probably also write occasional articles in my blog on the subject too; hopefully before too long this present page will be relegated to 'archives' as a record of our former membership of the EU. (A new section called "Former members of the EU" has been added in the table below, to cater for the departure of the UK from the EU when it becomes effective, also to cater for any other current EU member states which may decide subsequently to leave the EU.)

- 4th May 2016: The United Kingdom (UK) will hold a referendum ('plebiscite') on Thursday 23rd June 2016 to decide whether it will remain a member of the European Union or whether it will leave the organisation. If the decision is to 'remain', then one imagines that things will continue pretty much as now, with the evolution of the EU continuing with the participation of the UK. If the decision is to 'leave', it is not entirely certain what will happen although it is likely that in this case that the UK will conduct its withdrawal from the EU in terms of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which states that "Any member state may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements." You can read the full text of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty here. You can read full information about the referendum and the question that will be asked in the UK government official website ('portal') here and from there you should 'click' on the "Q&A" link near top right; in that website you will read that it is the UK government's official position that it is recommending that the UK remains a member of the EU, although how 'objective' that recommendation is, is hotly disputed by some. However, each voter must make up his/her own mind - my own, possibly evolving, views on this matter are briefly stated in the 'Site last updated' section of my homepage here.

- 16th June 2015: On 12th March 2015, Iceland withdrew its application for membership of the EU in a letter sent by the country's foreign minister, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson. Until that point Iceland had the status of a 'Candidate country'; for more about the background to this, please read below under the section entitled Remarks about the "Candidate Countries". You may wish also to read more about this in the following two articles in the Deutsche Welle and Wikipedia websites respectively. The action of the Icelandic government, without the formal approval of the country's parliament, provoked protests in the capital a few days later - see here, but it appears that for both the Icelandic government and the EU the withdrawal is de facto, if potentially not de jure in terms of the Icelandic constitution, but that is really an internal matter for Iceland one imagines. (I have only just become aware of this change).

- 14th January 2015: Albania was 'upgraded' to a 'Candidate country' (from 'Potential candidate') by the European Council on 27th June 2014 (I have only just become aware of this change).

- 1st January 2015: Lithuania, an EU member state since 2004, becomes the last of the three Baltic states and the 19th country to adopt the Euro as its national currency, in replacement of the Litas (LTL); the reference rate for the legacy currency is EUR 1 = LTL 3.45280.

- 1st January 2014: Latvia, an EU member state since 2004, becomes the 18th country to adopt the Euro as its national currency, in replacement of the Lat (LVL); the reference rate for the legacy currency is EUR 1 = LVL 0.702804.

- 1st July 2013: Croatia became the 28th EU member, having signed its ratification agremeent on 9th December 2011, and with all existing 27 members having ratified its accession. A referendum in Croatia took place in January 2012, with two-thirds voting in favour on a 47% turnout of voters; this was ratified by the Croatian parliament 'lawmakers' in March 2012.

- 1st March 2012: Serbia was 'upgraded' to a 'Candidate' country (from 'Potential Candidate') by the European Council.

- 15th December 2011: I have added an indication of those countries which use the Euro as the currency; this will be amended in due course as countries commence (or cease) using the Euro as the currency; at present 17 of the 27 (wef 1st July 2013, 28) member states use it.

- 9th December 2011: Two events took place -
[1] the UK declined to acquiesce in amendments to EU treaty legislation, which would have seriously damaged a major sector of the UK economy, the financial sector; most of the other 26 member states have agreed to go forward with their plans on their own, outwith the framework of existing EU treaty legislation, in an effort to secure the future of the Euro, which is in this writer's view doomed to failure given the internal inconsistencies both in the design of the Euro and the different aims and economies of Eurozone members. It is not yet clear how last night's events will affect the long-term future of the UK's relationship with the EU.
[2] secondly, Croatia signed its ratification agreement under which it will become the 28th member of the EU in mid-2013 - it is now classified officially as an "Acceding Country", a change from its previous status of "Candidate Country".

- 1st January 2007: a further 2 countries (Romania and Bulgaria) joined on 1st January 2007, bringing total membership to 27.

- 1st May 2004: the European Union undertook the largest single growth in membership in its history, when 10 new members joined, bringing total membership to 25. As predicted, only the southern ('Greek') part of Cyprus joined the EU in May 2004, following U.N. sponsored referenda in that part, where reunification of the island was rejected, and in the northern ('Turkish') part of the island where it was supported. Shortly after the results of these referenda were confirmed and before the accession date on 1st May 2004 of the 10 new member states, the European Union (of the 15) pledged to end the international isolation of northern Cyprus and to provide it with economic assistance. What passes for EU policy on the Turkish Cypriot Community is outlined here (this is a .pdf document in the European Commission website as at 19th June 2013); basically, this situation is a confused mess and is unlikely, in my view, to be resolved in the foreseeable future.

Remarks about the "Candidate Countries"
Albania is the most recent addition to this category, having been upgraded from the status of a "Potential Candidate Country" by decision of the European Council on 27th June 2014. Within the section on 'Candidate' countries I include Turkey, because this is officially the status it holds; whether the internal EU politics of certain EU countries will ever allow Turkey to join as a full member is anyone's guess. Iceland has 'leap-frogged' other potential candidate countries; it applied to join the EU in late-2009, following its financial and economic collapse a year earlier and by mid-2010 had alreay been 'promoted' to the status of 'candidate country'; my sense is that it will become a full member in the relatively near future (although recent reports I have read - April/May 2013 - indicate that Icelandic public opinion has become rather cool on joining the EU), certainly far sooner than Turkey (whose candidacy seems destined to remain stalled indefinitely, largely as a result of the strong opposition of certain of the existing EU members [notably, NOT the UK], because of their reluctance to having a largely-Moslem country, particularly one with such a large population, as a full EU member); these are my opinions only, but I think they are based on a practical and realistic assessment of the political dynamics of the EU. My hope is that Turkey will be welcomed as a full member sooner rather than later, but I am not holding my breath.

Remarks on the "Potential Candidate Countries"
Within the section on 'Potential Candidate' countries is included Kosovo whose future status and governance is, to put it mildly, open to doubt - whether it can realistically be expected to be granted 'candidate' status anytime soon is, again, anyone's guess.

Existing member states (27 in all) + year of entry
(Countries which use the Euro as the currency are marked *)

Austria (1995) - *

Belgium (1952) - *

Bulgaria (2007)

Croatia (2013)

Cyprus [part - see above] (2004) - *

Czech Republic (2004)

Denmark (1973)

Estonia (2004) - *

Finland (1995) - *

France (1952) - *

Germany (1952) - *

Greece (1981) - *

Hungary (2004)

Ireland (1973) - *

Italy (1952) - *

Latvia (2004) - *

Lithuania (2004) - *

Luxemburg (1952) - *

Malta (2004) - *

Netherlands (1952) - *

Poland (2004)

Portugal (1986) - *

Romania (2007)

Slovakia (2004) - *

Slovenia (2004) - *

Spain (1986) - *

Sweden (1995)

Former members of the EU

United Kingdom (1973-2020)

Click on the image below to visit the EU 'countries' website (version in English), which as well as showing a map with links to current member states, also has a link to 'Candidate' countries. Or click here if you wish to select another language (in the English language version, select your language, then under About the EU click on 'Countries', or the equivalent in the other language versions). This will allow you to view information about the countries who are currently members or candidates for membership of the EU:

Countries Acceding to EU membership

None at present

Candidates for EU membership



North Macedonia
(wef February 2019; foremrly known as "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia [FYROM]" or simply "Macedonia")



Potential Candidates for EU membership

(read in conjunction with the section describing the process for Joining the EU)

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Kosovo under UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (No internationally recognised flag)

"Kosovo Issues"

To read about some other international groupings involving the United Kingdom, please click here.

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