The EU has 28 member states, each of whom joined in phases. The original six who formed the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1958 were: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The UK joined alongside Ireland and Denmark in a first wave of expansion in 1973, taking the total to nine. Greece joined in 1981, followed by Spain and Portugal, which joined together in 1983.
This 12 persisted until 1995, when Austria, Finland and Sweden joined what had become the European Union. The biggest expansion occurred in 2004, when ten eastern European and small Mediterranean countries joined, namely: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. This took the total to 25. Finally, Bulgaria and Romania joined in 2007, followed by Croatia in 2009.
If the UK leaves, it will be the first member state to have done so.View all facts