Who belongs to the European Union? What is the EU? • The European Union is a group of countries whose governments work together. • It's a bit like a club. To join you have to agree to follow the rules and in return you get certain benefits. • Each country has to pay money to be a member. They mostly do this through taxes. • The EU uses the money to change the way people live and do business in Europe. • Countries join because they think that they will benefit from the changes the EU makes. Five top aims of the EU These are the five big things the EU has set out to do. 1. Promote economic and social progress. Help people earn enough money and get treated fairly. 2. Speak for the European Union on the international scene. By working as a group the EU hopes that Europe will be listened to more by other countries. 3. Introduce European citizenship. Anyone from a member state is a citizen of the EU and gets four special rights. 4. Develop Europe as an area of freedom, security and justice. Help Europeans to live in safety, without the threat of war. 5. Maintain and build on established EU law. Make laws that protect peoples rights in the member countries. Netherlands Belgium Germany Luxembourg France Founders of the EEC in 1957 Italy Denmark UK Republic of Ireland 3 new members joined in 1973 to bring membership up to 9 Greece joined in 1981 followed by Spain and Portugal in 1986 Spain Greece Portugal Sweden Finland Austria The last countries to join were in 1995 New members of the EU from May 1st Estonia Poland Latvia Czech Republic Lithuania Slovakia Hungary Slovenia Malta Cyprus The future EU? Who might be the next to join? Who are not likely to join in the future? Why is this, do you think? Why do countries want to join the EU? They can trade freely with other member countries More trade will lead to greater economic prosperity Conforming to EU laws means an improvement in working and living conditions More co-operation with other members over important issues such as terrorism, migration, drugs and pollution A more peaceful and co-operative Europe Travel between member states is easier Why are people opposed to the new countries joining? The new countries are a lot poorer than the current 15 members and this may drain money from the wealthier countries to bring them up to EU standard In fact, the new members have had to prove that their economy is strong enough to join the EU There is a fear that migrants from these countries will enter the UK and other members to claim benefits This may happen but the majority of people will come to work legitimately Why are people in the UK against being in the EU? They feel that the EU is not as democratic as the UK as some important figures are not elected. The UK may lose some of its powers as the EU will apply laws to all member countries. People think we should be closer to the USA rather than Europe. UK companies may become less competitive due to EU working conditions and people may lose jobs. People believe that the British national identity will be lost. Some people believe that it is only a matter of time before we change currencies to the Euro (€). What are the benefits to the UK of being in the EU? The EU ensures that British companies can compete fairly with other member states. Consumer rights are protected with safety standards for items such as toys. The EU provides financial help to areas which are deprived and supports businesses. Being in the EU makes it easy to travel and work across member states without needing permits and visas. As part of the EU, the UK has a larger voice in world affairs and can call on member states for support.