|This page revised:
20 January 2017
(recent updates in reverse chronological order)
- 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. (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
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
- 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
here. You can read full information
about the referendum and the question that will be asked in the UK
government official website ('portal')
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
- 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
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 -
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
- 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 -
 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.
 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
- 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
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.