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Relationship with the EU

This fact was correct when it was updated on 21 Sep 2020

When did Britain decide to join the European Union?

The UK first applied to join the EU in 1961. This application was vetoed by the French government in 1963 and a second application was vetoed, again by the French, in 1967. It was only in 1969 that the green light was given to negotiations for British membership, with talks starting in 1970. The UK joined the European Economic Community (as it then was) on 1 January 1973, alongside Denmark and Ireland.

Related Reading: Why did the UK not join the EU when it started? and How do countries join the EU?

Find out more – read our explainer on the European Union and this analysis on how MPs misunderstand it.

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