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The United Kingdom and the EU, a complicated relationship

Updated on April 27, 2016

Contrary to popular belief, the EU has been around for quite some time, starting it's life as the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 (ECSC), it's processes legislation and institutions have been an important part of the UK history for over 40 years since it joined in 1973.

Originally devised as a way to decrease tension between countries within EU territory after World War 2, the ECSC aimed to create a free market for its members in order to "make war not only unthinkable, but materially impossible" (Robert Schuman, French foreign minsisted 1950).

The involvement of the UK began in 1973 under the leadership of Tory Prime Minister Edward Heath. Since then we've had a referendum on whether or not to leave, and have signed a lot of treaties to increase our own personal freedoms, devolve power to the EU and to entrench our Human Rights. One of the most important treaties, The Single European Act, was signed in 1971, and this brought us freedom of movement which allows any EU citizen to move freely wherever and whenever they want within the EU. In 2015 it was estimated that over 1,400,000 Britons had taken advantage of the SEA and migrated to other EU nations.

Although we've had these great benefits, there have also been some pretty big problems, not least of which was the Greek financial crisis which began in 2010, and is currently ongoing. Due to its large deficits and relatively low GDP, the Greek government defaulted on loans and effectively needed to be "bailed out". There are those out there who have estimated that this, couple with other financial support given to the EU ans it's members has cost the UK around £12.5 billion.

Now that you've had a (very) brief catch up of this long and complex relationship, we can talk about the present, and how it affects you. Over the past few years, issues such as the apparent weakening of the Euro and the Greek crisis have severely weakened public opinion in regards to the UK's place in the EU, because of this a national referendum has been organised for 23/06/2016. You have an important role to play in all of this, your vote will help to mould UK history forever. Over the next few weeks you'll see a lot of propaganda from both sides of the coin, trying to influence you into voting their way. In order to give you a basis on which to understand these arguments, and let you make up your own mind, I'm going to post another two articles over the next two days, which will highlight both the benefits and the drawbacks of the EU on the UK. The articles will be as balanced and unbiased as possible to give you the best start in understanding this issue and how it will ultimately affect you as a citizen.

Thanks for reading my first article on hubpages. Before you go please, comment, share and vote in the poll below.

With little/no prior knowledge, how would you be voting in the UK referendum on EU membership?

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