European Union–United Kingdom relations

European Union–United Kingdom relations
Map indicating locations of European Union and United Kingdom


United Kingdom
Diplomatic mission
European Union Delegation, London United Kingdom Mission, Brussels
Ambassador João Vale de Almeida Ambassador Tim Barrow

Relations between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) date back to the foundation of the European Communities, the European Union's predecessor, in 1957. The United Kingdom was a major member state of the European Communities after joining it in 1973. It was a leading member state of the European Union until it became the first country to voluntarily end its membership on 31 January 2020 after a referendum was held in 2016 which resulted in 51.9% of voters opting to leave. The Brexit withdrawal agreement now plays a significant role in relations between the two entities, especially during the transition period which lasts until 31 December 2020. The United Kingdom borders one EU member state: Ireland.


UK Prime Minister Theresa May meet with President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker with in Brussels, Belgium, 21 October 2016

The United Kingdom's applications to join in 1963 and 1967 were vetoed by the President of France, Charles de Gaulle, who said that "a number of aspects of Britain's economy, from working practices to agriculture" had "made Britain incompatible with Europe" and that Britain harboured a "deep-seated hostility" to any pan-European project.[1] Once de Gaulle had relinquished the French presidency in 1969, the UK made a third and successful application for membership.

Since 1977, both pro- and anti-European views have had majority support at different times, with some dramatic swings between the two camps.[2] In the United Kingdom European Communities membership referendum of 1975, two-thirds of British voters favoured continued EC membership. The highest-ever rejection of membership was in 1980, the first full year of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's term of office, with 65% opposed to and 26% in favour of membership.[2] Although the United Kingdom had been a member of the European Union, they never adopted the use of the euro or joined the Schengen Area. The Schengen agreements allowed citizens of countries in the European Union to travel without border controls.[3]

Following the result of the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, when 52 percent of those who voted supported Brexit, the UK negotiated its withdrawal from the European Union. After the vote, British Prime Minister David Cameron, who supported staying in the E.U., resigned. Theresa May became the Prime Minister after his formal resignation. Although she also supported remaining in the EU, she committed to negotiating Britain's exit.[4] They formally left the bloc on 31 January 2020.


In 2017, exports to the European Union amounted to £274 billion out of £616 billion in total exports for the UK. The proportion of UK export to the EU has been noted to be in decline, since exports to non-EU countries have increased at a faster rate.[5]

United Kingdom's foreign relations with EU member states (EU27)

Diplomatic relations between UK and EU member states

Country British embassy Reciprocal embassy Notes
 Austria Vienna London British Mission to OSCE and UN Office in Vienna
 Belgium Brussels London British Mission to EU and NATO in Brussels
 Bulgaria Sofia London
 Croatia Zagreb
Consulate General: Split
 Cyprus High Commissions: Nicosia High Commissions: London
 Czech Republic Prague London
Consulate General: Manchester
 Denmark Copenhagen London
 Estonia Tallinn London
 Finland Helsinki London
 France Paris
Consulate General: Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille
Consulate General: Edinburgh
British Mission to OECD and UNESCO in Paris. and in Council of Europe in Strasbourg
 Germany Berlin
Consulate General: Düsseldorf, Munich
Consulate General: Edinburgh
 Greece Athens
Consulate General: Heraklion, Thessaloniki
 Hungary Budapest London
Consulate General: Manchester
 Ireland Dublin London
Consulate General: Cardiff,
499 km of common border
 Italy Rome
Consulate General: Milan,
Consulate General: Edinburgh
 Latvia Riga London.
 Lithuania Vilnius London
 Luxembourg Luxembourg London
 Malta High Commissions: Valletta High Commissions: London
 Netherlands The Hague
Consulate General: Amsterdam
London British Mission to OPCW in The Hague
 Poland Warsaw London
Consulate General: Belfast,
Edinburgh, Manchester
 Portugal Lisbon
Consulate General: Portimão
Consulate General: Manchester
 Romania Bucharest London
Consulate General: Edinburgh
 Slovakia Bratislava London
 Slovenia Ljubljana London
 Spain Madrid
Consulate General: Barcelona,
Las Palmas,
Palma de Mallorca,
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Consulate General: Edinburgh,
 Sweden Stockholm London

See also


  1. ^ "1967: De Gaulle says 'non' to Britain – again". BBC News. 27 November 1976. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  2. ^ a b Mortimore, Roger. "Polling history: 40 years of British views on 'in or out' of Europe". The Conversation. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  3. ^ "It's Complicated: From the Roman Empire to Brexit, Britain Has Always Struggled to Define Its Relationship With Europe". Time. Retrieved 2020-03-04.
  4. ^ "United Kingdom - The "Brexit" referendum". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-03-04.
  5. ^ "Everything you might want to know about the UK's trade with the EU". 28 August 2018. Retrieved 7 December 2018.

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