The UK and the European Union
The United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community – later to become the European Union (EU) – in 1973. Since then the EU has enlarged to 27 members and has extended its policy competences considerably. Member states form a single European market of some 500 million people. Within the EU the UK has often been considered an ‘awkward partner’, wary of deeper political and economic integration. Domestically, the UK’s relationship with the EU remains a major issue that has caused divisions between and within the main political parties. EU membership has also required the British state to adapt some of its practices and procedures.