The UK became a member of the European Union in 1973. They called it the Common Market in those days.

We wanted to get in earlier but President Charles de Gaulle of France was against the idea. He believed the UK was more interested in the US than Europe.

Since it joined, the UK has mostly played a full part in the EU.

Charles de Gaulle, President of France 1959-1969


we didn’t join the single currency, the €uro
we didn’t sign up to the Schengen agreement removing border controls,
and we don’t accept the Charter of Fundamental Rights where it conflicts with British law.

Why we didn’t join the Schengen agreement

The UK didn’t join the Schengen arrangement to abolish passport formalities at frontiers in Europe because it wanted to protect the natural security advantages of its situation as an island. 

What we don’t like about the Charter of Fundamental Rights

The British protocol (guidance on how it affects the UK) on the Charter stipulates that purely domestic British law (that is to say British law not adopted as a result of European decisions or obligations) cannot be overruled by the European Court of Justice on the basis of the Charter.

It also states that the Charter cannot be used by anyone living in Britain to claim economic or social rights that could be enforced by the European Court of Justice.

However, much of what is in the Charter is already enshrined in existing European law and certainly binding on the United Kingdom

The European Convention on Human Rights, which is implemented in British law, covers much of the same territory as the Charter.