Into the breach we go…
As most (if not all) of you are aware today, Friday January 31st is a historic day. It represents the last day in which the United Kingdom is a member of the European Union. On this historic day, we think it appropriate to quickly review a little history of the EU’s evolution. The United Kingdom was a member of EU, and its predecessor organizations, for just over 47 years. History will determine whether the decision to join was, and the decision to leave is, in the best interests of the United Kingdom. Whether you agree with Brexit or not, the uncertainty is over and Parliament can move on to other issues (though there is much work that the government must do in the next year with regards to negotiating the final “separation” provisions).
Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands and West Germany were the original signatories of the forerunner of the EU. The UK had declined an invitation to join them. In fact, the UK was not a signatory of any of the three original treaties that ultimately established the EU. The first being the 1951 Treaty of Paris (signed April 18, 1951) that established the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). This was followed by the 1957 Treaty of Rome (signed March 27, 1957) which led to the formation of the European Economic Community on January 1, 1958. On April 8, 1965 the Merger Treaty was signed between the founding states of the ECSC, EEC and the European Atomic Energy Community.
The UK first began talks to join the EEC in July 1961. It applied for membership in 1963 and 1967 but its application was rejected by French President Charles de Gaulle. In 1969, upon de Gaulle’s resignation, did the UK receive the green light to start negotiations for admission. The Treaty of Accession was signed in January 1972 by the then prime minister Edward Heath, leader of the Conservative Party. Parliament's European Communities Act 1972 was enacted on 17 October, and the UK's instrument of ratification was deposited the next day (18 October), letting the United Kingdom's membership of the EC come into effect on 1 January 1973. It should be noted that the British people had no direct say in this decision. A subsequent referendum was held in 1975 as to whether the United Kingdom should remain as part of the European Community. The vote was 67% in favour of continued membership. Throughout the 47 years of membership, however, support for and against European membership varied considerably.
Over the years, the supranational structure of the EU became evident as the organization migrated from an economic union to a political union. More and more decisions were being made in the European Parliament in Brussels. It was this lack of political power and self-control that ultimately led to the June 23, 2016 referendum in which the Leave side received 51.89% of the vote and Remain side 48.11%. The UK then had over 3 years of political turmoil as the UK parliament struggled to negotiate with the EU as to what the terms of the separation would be and what the UK-EU relationship would be post Brexit. Much of that work remains to be done.
In any event, the EU experiment for the UK is now over as of today.
Since 1951 the BCCTC has been in existence to serve you in two-way trade and investment, between the UK & Canada, throughout various governments and political changes.
We are here to serve you and that will not change. Please feel free to contact us, become a member and help enhance the relationship between our two countries.