Key Dates: UK Parliament and the EU

This page lists a selection of key dates in the development of the European Union, from its initial concept after the Second World War to the present, and in the UK’s relationship with the EU.

2016

  • UK referendum (23 June) on membership of the EU
  • European Council agrees a New Settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union
  • EU and Turkey adopt agreement to end irregular migration from Turkey to the EU, targeting the people smugglers' business model and removing the incentive to seek irregular routes to the EU
  • The European Commission announces proposals to tackle corporate tax avoidance by large companies in all 28 EU countries

2015

  • Lithuania adopts the euro as its currency, becoming the 19th member of the euro area
  • The European Commission unveils detailed plans to create a Digital Single Market, laying the groundwork for Europe’s digital future
  • The EU and Vietnam reach an agreement in principle for a free trade agreement (FTA)
  • The European Commission signs a Memorandum of Understanding with Greece for a stability support programme. The European Stability Mechanism will be able to disburse up to €86 billion in loans over the next three years
  • The European Parliament gives final approval to rules banning roaming charges for using mobile phones abroad in the EU. The new rules will come into effect in June 2017
  • At a UN conference in Paris, 195 countries conclude a new agreement on climate change, with the EU playing a pivotal role. It comprises an action plan to limit global warming 'well below' 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels

2014

  • Latvia adopts the euro as its currency, becoming the 18th member of the euro area.
  • Donald Tusk, former Prime Minister of Poland, replaces Herman Van Rompuy as the President of the European Council

2013

Croatia joins the EU.

2009

The Treaty of Lisbon attempted to make the EU more democratic, more transparent and more efficient.

2007

Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU.

2004

Ten countries joined the EU: Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Malta and Cyprus. Membership of the EU was 25 countries and 456 million people.

2003

In February the Treaty of Nice came into force. The main purpose of the Treaty was to facilitate the major EU enlargement (10 new states) which was to follow.

2002

Twelve European states adopted the Euro as legal tender on 1 January and began to phase out their national currencies. Britain, Sweden and Denmark did not join the single currency.

1999

On 1 January the single currency, the Euro, was adopted as the official currency of 11 of the 15 EU Member States, as a ‘virtual currency’ for commercial and financial transactions only.

1997

The Treaty of Amsterdam incorporated the Schengen provisions on the abolition of internal border controls and a common visa policy into the EU Treaties, with opt-outs for the UK and Ireland.

1993

The Single Market was established, paving the way for the free movement of goods, capital, services and people.

1992

After a flood of selling the pound on foreign stock exchanges, Britain was forced to leave the ERM. This day became known as ‘Black Wednesday’.

1991

The Maastricht Treaty (full name: the Treaty on European Union) was a major amendment of the 1957 Treaty of Rome. It established a timeline for Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). The UK secured an opt-out from EMU.

1990

Britain joined the ERM.

1987

The Single European Act (SEA) amended the Treaty of Rome. Its aim was to create a single internal market.

1979

The European Monetary System (EMS) was created. It used an Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) to create stable exchange rates. Britain was the only EEC Member State not to join the ERM.

1975

In a UK referendum on continued membership of the EEC, the electorate voted ‘Yes’ by 67.2% to 32.8% to stay in Europe.

1973

Denmark, Ireland and Britain joined the EEC.

1969

Charles de Gaulle vetoed a second application from Britain.

1961

Britain applied for membership of the EEC. This was vetoed by French President Charles de Gaulle.

1957

The Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) was signed by ‘The Original Six’.

1951

The six countries signed the Treaty of Paris, establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC)

1950

The first formal move towards the European Union (EU) was an agreement between France, Germany, Italy and Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg), to share control of coal and steel. This was known as ‘The Schuman Declaration’.

1946

During a speech in Zurich in 1946, Winston Churchill spoke of the need to form a ‘European Family’ or a ‘United States of Europe’ to ensure peace and prosperity for Europe.

Brexit: the next steps

Read analysis of how leaving the EU will affect different policy areas in the UK