It’s almost time for the UK to decide on whether to stay on as a member of the European Union (EU), or exit (brexit) and take back sole control of its affairs.
It’s a massive decision the sort that only comes along once in a generation, if that, so here are some of the facts about the UK and EU…
When did the UK join the EU?
The UK joined the EU back in 1973 following a positive result in the first ever UK-wide referendum – two-thirds (67%) of the 65% turnout voted in favour of the UK joining what was then known as the European Community (Common Market).
The European Union (EU) was formally established on November 1, 1993.
How many member states are in the EU?
The EU are currently 28 member states in the EU, with Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania being the most recent member states to be accepted.
19 of the 28 member states are also members of the eurozone currency area.
There are five other countries currently being considered for membership: Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey.
How much does the UK pay to be part of the EU?
The UK is the third biggest contributer to the EU, behind France in second and Germany in first. In 2015 the UK paid a net £8.5 billion in contributions to the EU.
The EU budget for 2016 is €144 billion (£114 billion) – to put that in context, the UK government’s public spending budget £724 billion, which is six-and-a-half times more than the EU’s entire budget.
Why is there going to a be an EU referendum?
On June 23 there will be nationwide vote to decide whether the UK should stay in the EU, but why are we having a vote on it?
Back in 2013, David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, promised to hold a vote on Britain’s continued membership of the European Union.
The aim of this was to try and get rid of both Ukip and euro-skeptic Tories – once the public have voted, it can no longer be brought up time and again as an issue.
The government is currently trying to renegotiate the following terms with the EU:
- Reducing benefits for migrants to discourage them coming to the UK.
- Cutting red tape on business.
- Exempting Britain from “ever closer union” with the EU
- Introducing more protections for EU countries that don’t have the euro, including the UK.