Latest News


From Brussels, Strasbourg, Westminster and the classroom.

December 20, 2018

UK government announces new immigration policy

The new policy will come into force after Brexit on March 29, 2019. It ends the priority given to EU nationals over people from elsewhere. See Migration section.

November 23, 2018

Deal with the EU in prospect

European Council is expected to approve a departure agreement with the UK and a political declaration on future trading relations on November 25, 2018.  See details on Brexit pages.

May 23, 2018

Customs arrangements

The head of HM Revenue and Customs claims that an alternative scheme to the customs union that the British cabinet is considering could cost up to £20bn per annum. See Brexit pages.

May 18, 2018

Update of EU member states

Using CIA World Fact Book as source, political and economic data updated for all member states.

Brussels, March 23, 2018

Transition deal on Brexit

Transition deal agreed between the UK and the EU that will extend the UK's relationship with the EU in all respects, including participation in the customs union and Single Market from March 29, 2019 to December 31, 2020, except the UK will have no say in decision making. See more under Brexit

December 13, 2017

Parliament will have final say

House of Commons approves Draft Amendment 7 to the Repeal Bill that will give Parliament final say in approving any deal that the Prime Minister makes with the EU at the time the UK leaves the EU.

December 15, 2017

Divorce terms agreed

EU and UK agree terms of separation that includes citizens rights, the Irish border and 'divorce' bill. See Brexit

November 29, 2017

Divorce bill agreed

UK government and EU have agreed financial settlement of the UK's departure from the EU.

February 22, 2017

Rights of residence of EU nationals in UK

Chairman of parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights, in letter to the Financial Times, calls on government to guarantee residence rights of 3m EU nationals lawfully resident in UK at time of referendum. These people she says are critical to the NHS, universities, agriculture, creative industries and finance. To do so would be morally right and help negotiations with the EU start on a positive note.


June 23, 2016

UK to leave the EU

In a national referendum the UK voted to leave the EU with 52% voting to leave against 48% voting to stay.  Turnout was 63%.

October 1, 2015

EU and asylum seekers

See new article that describes EU policies and the responsibilities of member states in detail.

August 21, 2015


Inflation and unemployment rates at August 2015 using as source. Little change since last update in December 2014. Some decline in unemployment though still in double figures in almost half member states. 

July 13, 2015

See new entry under Talking Points: 'The EU Referendum'

June 15, 2015

Today is the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta. See Stepping Stones and more information available from the British Library.

May 8, 2015

See new entry under Talking Points,  'Charlie Hebdo and Freedom of Expression'

April 14, 2015

Conservative Party Central Office

Conservative election manifesto contains commitment to scrap the Human Rights Act and 'curtail' the role of the European Court of Human Rights. Also to hold a referendum on EU membership and reform welfare rules for EU immigrants.

February 10, 2015


The European Court of Human Rights for the fourth time found the UK guilty of breaching the rights of prisoners through its blanket ban on allowing prisoners to vote.  However the court rejected the claims for compensation and legal costs of the 1015 prisoners who brought the case. 

In September 2014 the Council of Europe 'noted with profound concern and disappointment' that the UK government had not introduced a bill at the start of the 2014/2015 parliamentary session.  See background

January 2, 2015

Economic data

Inflation and unemployment rates at December 2014 updated for all member states using as source. Not much change since March 2014. Unemployment marginally lower but almost half of the member states still have rates in double figures. Austerity policies have reduced inflation to near zero in many cases and even below in a number. 


January 1, 2015

Eurozone expands

Lithuania joins the eurozone becoming the last of the Baltic members to join and nineteenth member state of the European Union to use the euro as its currency.

December 31, 2014

Honour for chairman of auditors

The British member of the European Court of Auditors, David John Bostick, has been awarded the title of KCMG in the New Year's Honours.

September 2014

New citizenship curriculum

New curriculum comes into force this month.  Lesson plans on this site for KS3 updated to accommodate the changes.  Updates of KS4 plans in progress.

June 27, 2014

EU signs trade agreements with three eastern European countries

The European Union has signed partnership agreements with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, a move which has been strongly opposed by Russia, which has economic concerns about the agreements - it is worried that the Russian market could be flooded by cheaper goods from the EU that could undermine Russian producers. The agreements are officially called an "Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area".

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy told leaders of the three countries "The EU stands by your side, today more than ever before." He added that there was nothing in the agreements that might harm Russia in any way.


May 27, 2014

Ukraine - new President elected

Petro Poroshenko won the presidential election with 54% of the vote. He stood for closer ties with the European Union.  But in the Crimea and two eastern regions of the country polling stations remained closed, either by local officials or through intimidation.

Once described as "the bread basket of Europe" Ukraine has been in crisis, both politically and economically, since early this year.  Find out more about the history of Ukraine, its economy, peoples and culture, and background information about its relations with the European Union.

Ukraine files


March 24, 2014

Economic data

Inflation and unemployment rates at March 2014 updated for all member states using as source.

March 21, 2014

Bank union

EU agrees a bank union to deal with future financial crises.  See role of European Central Bank. UK not part of the union.

February 28, 2014

Major increase in net migration to the UK

Office of National Statistics shows net migration increased by more than one third to 212,000 in the year to September 2013. For details see UK Migration.

21 January 2014

Serbia opens EU accession negotiations

Serbia officially started EU membership talks at a ceremony in Brussels on 21 January 2014. Serbian Prime Minister, Ivica Dačić described the event as the "most important moment for Serbia since the end of World War II.”

It follows a long process of rehabilitation and reconciliation since the Yugoslav war. According to reports, EU Enlargement Commissioner, Štefan Füle, intends to start negotiations with the most difficult "chapters" - justice and home affairs - which will be also the last ones to be closed. The Serbian government hopes to conclude EU negotiations by 2020.

Speaking at the opening of talks - officially known as 'accession' talks - Prime Minister IvicaDačić said the move towards EU membership "defines the society that Serbia wants to have".

You can find lots more about Serbia here

1 January 2014

Latvia joins the €urozone

On 1 January 2014 Latvia began the New Year as the newest member of the €urozone, becoming the 18th member of the group of EU states to use the €uro as its currency.

Latvia has overcome financial crisis to become the EU's fastest-growing economy and expects that using the €uro will ease former dependency on Russia.  With a substantial ethnic Russian population, the country is often seen as having close economic ties to Russia, which remains an important export market.

The Latvian government and most business owners also welcomed the single currency, saying it would improve Latvia's credit rating and attract foreign investors.  The governor of the Latvian central bank said: "Euro brings stability and certainty, definitely attracting investment, so new jobs, new taxes and so on. So being in the second largest currency union I think will definitely mean more popularity."

Latvia's previous national currency had the curious privilege of being the currency with the highest unit value in Europe, one lat being worth £1.18½p on 31 December 2013.

Alf Vanags, director of the Baltic International Centre for Economic Policy Studies, said he personally did not like giving up the familiar lats but it was an "entirely irrational sentiment". The €uro provided a mutual insurance policy that countries could draw on when they got into trouble.

Find out more about Latvia


December 19, 2013

Economics statistics

Inflation and unemployment rates at November 2013 updated for all member states, using as source.

October 25, 2013

EU restarts talks with Turkey

As reported in the Guardian Weekly, the EU is to reopen membership talks with Turkey more than three years after putting negotiations on hold. This decision follows a U-turn by Germany which before the September elections favoured shelving talks. 

July 23, 2013

Economics statistics for member states (inflation and unemployment) updated using as secondary sources and the June 29, 2013 issue of The Economist magazine.

July 1, 2013

Croatia becomes 28th member of the European Union

Croatia has become the 28th member of the European Union. It comes more than 20 years after Croatia's declaration of independence in 1991 and subsequent involvement in the four-year Jugoslav civil war.

At midnight on 1 July fireworks in the capital Zagreb celebrated the moment EU membership came into effect. President Ivo Josipović described the event as historic, having earlier told a meeting of EU and regional leaders: "The accession of Croatia to the European Union is confirmation that each one of us belongs to the European democratic and cultural set of values."

The EU praised reforms which have aimed to improve the rule of law and tackle corruption.

Croatian officials then unveiled EU signs and removed customs posts at the borders with neighbouring EU countries Slovenia and Hungary.

Croatia is the first new EU member since Bulgaria and Romania joined in 2007.  Croatia applied for EU membership in 2003 and was in negotiations from 2005 until 2011. Initial enthusiasm to join the EU waned following the €urozone crisis, and the country's own economic problems.

Find out more about Croatia

April 19, 2013

Economic statistics for member states (inflation and unemployment) updated using as sources and March 30, 2013 issue of the Economist magazine.

April 12, 2013

Response to consultation on changes to National Curriculum

We have responded today to proposed changes in the Citizenship curriculum at KS3 and KS4 as follows.

Responding to questions relating to content and attainment targets:

'Political and legal knowledge: It is unthinkable that the EU be omitted from this area. In an interconnected world, the UK is not immune to what happens elsewhere.  It is vital in the key concepts to reference European, international and global knowledge. Reference to Europe cannot possibly omit the EU. We are members of the single market and an important member state with much to offer. In the current climate of debate about the UK's membership this is a vital area for developing the teaching of topical and controversial issues.

'National identity and immigration is another sensitive and controversial issue, one strand of which is intimately linked with the EU and its freedom of movement for all including UK citizens.

'Human rights has been an important and vital element in citizenship studies in the current curriculum. UK legislators have played a crucial role in the development of international human rights legislation in the wake of WWII, and pupils need to understand the background to the current issue of a UK Bill of Rights versus the European Convention.

'All these issues, together with the other key aspects of the programme, all featuring on a daily basis in the media and in the lives of ordinary citizens, present an engaging and complex challenge to teachers and learners alike. To attribute a single attainment target for pupil assessment is to short change and demotivate those wanting and able to rise to the challenge and benefit at a deeper level from the programme.'

Prague, 9 March 2013

Czechs elect pro-European as next president

Miloš Zeman was elected next president of the Czech Republic. The former Social Democrat prime minister received 54.8% of the vote in the second round of the direct presidential elections on 26 January ahead of Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg with 45.2%. Miloš Zeman won in all Czech regions with the exception of Prague. In contrast Schwarzenberg received nearly 85% of the expatriate vote from Czechs living abroad, with Miloš Zeman getting just over 15%. The turnout in the second round of voting reached over 59%, less than in the first round two weeks ago. Miloš Zeman was inaugurated on 8 March 2013, the day after President Václav Klaus finished his second term in office.

A former Social Democrat prime minister, Miloš Zeman is known to be pro-EU, a significant change from his predecessor as president Václav Klaus, a convinced eurosceptic.


Nicosia, 25 February 2013

Presidential election in Cyprus

Nicos Anastasiades was elected next President of Cyprus in a second round of the presidential election held on 24 February 2013. He assumes power on 1 March 2013. A lawyer by profession, he is the leader of the right-wing political party DISY (Democratic Rally).

Reflecting widespread concern about the debt problems of Cyprus, Anastasiades' victory boosted hopes of reaching a financial bailout deal with international banks.  Agence France-Presse remarked that Anastasiades represented a stark contrast to the outgoing government and speculated that "his perceived bias towards big business may put him on a collision course with influential and powerful trade unions". In his concession speech, losing candidate Stavros Malas pledged to support Anastasiades "in actions and politics that we believe are followed for the good of the country".

Nikos Anastasiadis has been a supporter of the Annan Plan for Cyprus, even though a majority of his party has been opposed to it. The Plan was a United Nations proposal to resolve the dispute between the two separate regions of Cyprus. The proposal was put to the people of Cyprus in a referendum in 2004. Greek Cypriots rejected the proposal by 76%, while 65% of the Turkish Cypriots accepted it.
See Cyprus for more about the country.

Westminster, January 23, 2013

UK heads for exit?

The British prime minister promised an in/out referendum in the next parliament if he is re-elected in 2015. He would seek to renegotiate the UK's relationship with the EU and if successful would seek public support in a referendum. Electors would be given the choice of voting to stay in Europe under the new arrangements or of voting to leave.

Strasbourg January 14, 2013

Ban lifted on wearing a cross

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that a British Airways employee suffered discrimination over her Christian belief when she had been banned from wearing a cross at work. The court took the view that a discreet cross would not have adversely affected BA's public image and said that British courts had failed to balance the competing interests adequately.

Brussels, December 6, 2012

The European Court of Justice upholds appeal against AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical group, for anti competitive policies relating to generic drugs. 

December 6, 2012

Inflation and unemployment rates for all member states updated using as sources Economist of December 1, 2012 and Trade Economics


Westminster, November 22, 2012

Prisoners voting rights   The government published the draft Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill which will be examined by a Joint Committee of MPs and Peers. They will consider three options:

  • Maintain the current ban on all convicted prisoners voting
  • Allow prisoners sentenced to less than six months prison to vote
  • Allow prisoners sntenced to less than four years prison to vote

See Human Rights Act

October 19, 2012

New entry under Human Rights

See 'Children's Rights' that includes Rights of the Child and Rights Respecting Schools.


September 20, 2012

Netherlands election rejects eurosceptic parties

Work continues to agree the policies of a new ruling Dutch coalition. On Thursday 13 September, Liberal Party leader Mark Rutte, who is expected to continue as Prime Minister, won the election despite pushing through tough austerity measures.

Mark Rutte’s party won 10 extra seats to give it 41 overall in the 150-seat House of Representatives. His likely coalition partner is the Labour party which gained nine more seats to total 39.

The major gains for two of this nation’s strongest supporters of the European Union were a significant boost for EU unity and a heavy defeat for Eurosceptics. The Freedom Party lost nine of its previous 24 seats after campaigning during the election to pull The Netherlands out of the European Union and drop the €uro.

September 18, 2012

Brussels rethink on biofuels

FT reports that the European Commission is to overhaul rules encouraging use of biofuels amid concerns that the policies may have contributed to deforestation and a surge in global food prices. See Everyday EU, 08:00 to 09:00 'On the road'.


September 13, 2012

Economic data for all member states (inflation and unemployment) updated for July or August, 2012. Sources: Economist magazine of September 8, 2012 and Trading Economics.


Rio de Janeiro, June 22, 2012

Water human right

At UN summit on the environment, water was declared a human right. Daily Telegraph, June 23, 2012


London, March 14, 2012

BBC 2, 21:00

Rights gone Wrong?

A report on concern in the UK about the impact of recent judgments under the Human Rights Act that conflict with public opinion. Programme traces origin of European Convention on Human Rights and the pioneering role played by Winston Churchill. Also looks at plans for UK Bill of Rights and the potentially damaging consequences if the UK were to withdraw from the Convention. Helpfully explains that the ECHR as nothing to do with the EU.



Dublin, February 28, 2012

Ireland to hold referendum on fiscal compact

The Irish prime minister on the advice of the attorney-general announces a referendum on the fiscal compact that involves closer co-ordination of economic policies among eurozone members. The treaty changes will go ahead whether or not Ireland votes in favour. If it votes against it will not qualify for future bail out funds if needed.


London, January 10, 2012

Migrant workers have no impact on unemployment claims

British economists find that migration has had virtually no impact on numbers of people claiming unemployment benefit. This contradicts Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith's claim made last summer that uncontrolled immigration would lead to higher levels of youth unemployment and increased burden on benefit system. See Financial Times p4.

Brussels, December 9, 2011

UK veto

UK Prime Minister vetoes treaty designed to create greater fiscal and economic integration among euro area Member States.

The treaty will contain measures to ensure compliance with the Growth and Stability Pact that sets a limit to budget deficits of 3%. It also provides for closer monitoring of Member State budgets and stronger coordination of economic policies. Mr Cameron objected on the grounds of the treaty's lack of protection of UK financial services industry.

Full statement at


EU rules on border controls

Summary: Twenty five countries in Europe have signed up to the Schengen Agreement. Citizens of the Schengen area are free to travel from one country to another without passport control or custom checks.

  Fully Schengen members (EU member states which have implemented the Schengen Agreement)
  Associated Schengen members (non-EU member states which have implemented the Schengen Agreement)
  Other EU member states (EU member states which have not implemented the Schengen Agreement yet)
  EU member states
which apply only
some Schengen laws
Map Credit CrazyPhunk

The first Schengen Agreement, named after the town in Luxembourg where it was signed, was signed in 1985 by five countries, France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands who decided to create a territory without internal borders.

A further eight countries signed up in 1997 after the Schengen arrangements were incorporated into EU law in the Treaty of Amsterdam. These are Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Austria.

Of the 10 countries that joined the EU in 2004 nine are now members of the Schengen area: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

A number of non EU member states have also joined. Iceland and Norway, which with Sweden, Denmark and Finland, are members of the Nordic Passport Union, were accepted into Schengen arrangements in 2001. Switzerland joined in 2004.

The UK and Ireland, while not full members of Schengen, take part in some of the arrangements namely police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, the fight against drugs and SIS.

To match security with freedom, this freedom of movement was accompanied by improved cooperation and coordination between the police and judicial authorities of participating member states in order to safeguard internal security and to counter organised crime. A sophisticated database, the Schengen Information System (SIS), is used by the authorities to exchange data on certain categories of people and goods.

A more advanced version of the Schengen Information System, SIS II, is being developed that will provide new facilities for information sharing and cooperation among Schengen members.

Click for more information on:
the Schengen area and information co-operation
on what travel documents are needed