UK Parliament and the EU: Overview

The UK joined the European Economic Community (EEC or Common Market – a union of six States) in January 1973. We look at the history of the EEC and trace the key events that have changed the Common Market the UK joined in the 1970s into the European Union of 28 States that we know today.

This includes its internal market, diplomatic missions, human rights guarantees and law-making powers in an ever broader range of areas, from social policy to defence procurement.

From the Second World War to the Treaty of Rome

The European Economic Community (EEC) was created against the backdrop of post World War II Europe, with the aim of never again allowing human rights atrocities such as those committed by Germany.

The EEC and the Single European Act

The Conservative Prime Minister, Edward Heath, took the UK into the EEC in January 1973 (along with Ireland and Denmark) after President de Gaulle of France had blocked UK membership twice in the 1960s.

The ERM and the single currency

The Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) created in 1979 laid the foundation for the later Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

From the Treaty of Nice to the Treaty of Lisbon

Another Treaty change agreed in Nice in 2001 came into force in 2003. Institutional changes allowed the EU to expand in 2004 to include eight central and eastern European States, Cyprus and Malta.

Brexit: the next steps

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