In a historic referendum, UK voted to exit the European Union on June 23.
What is the European Union (EU) ?
It is the political and economic union of 28 European countries including the United Kingdom. Its headquarters are in Brussels.
When was it formed?
The process of uniting European countries was initiated to bring about stability in the region after the devastation of the Second World War. It came into existence formally on November 1, 1993, with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty. In 2002, the Euro was introduced- it has replaced the national currencies of 19 member states.
What are its advantages?
The EU has a single market for its members enabling the free movement of its citizens, goods, services and the capital within the union. The nations follow common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. The EU has its own parliament and the court of justice. Many countries of the EU have also removed passport and border controls as their common borders. The member states are independent, but follow the EU agreements on trade, immigration, and security.
What are its challenges?
The EU has been facing problems like rising debt in some EU countries, increasing immigration from war-torn West Asian countries and most recently, the UK referendum favouring the country’s exit from the union.
Why does UK want to leave the EU ?
The UK hopes to become free to make its own trade deals and save billion of pounds in EU membership fees. It also wants to control the flow of immigrants from other EU countries who compete with locals for public services, housing and jobs.
It is feared that Brexit ( a portmanteau of ‘British’ and ‘exit’) may lead to the exit of other countries from the Union as well and adversely affect the world economy.
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