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What is the European Union?


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The European Union (EU) is a unique economic and political partnership between 28 European countries that together cover much of the continent. The EU was created in the aftermath of the Second World War to promote economic cooperation: the idea being that countries who trade with one another become economically interdependent and so more likely to avoid conflict.

The result was the European Economic Community (EEC), created in 1957 between six countries:

  • Belgium
  • Germany
  • France
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • The Netherlands

What began as an economic union to improve trade has developed into an organisation covering other policy areas and laws where the members feel that more can be achieved by working together, for example development aid and the environment. More and more European countries joined the EEC, with Britain joining in 1973. The name changed to the European Union in 1993 to reflect these developments.

The single or 'internal' market is the EU's main economic engine, enabling most goods, services, money and people to move freely. Since the EU was founded in 1957 it has changed the lives of people residing in the member countries. Over the past few decades the EU has helped to support regeneration of regions through a period of change in the economic, social and environmental landscape.

Membership of the EU has many benefits. One of the more visible ways the EU has an impact in Conwy is through the various funding that has been secured. Conwy can access funding because the UK is a member state of the EU. These funding programmes are designed to help create better economic and social conditions and also sustain and improve the natural environment.

EU Referendum Result

The EU Referendum held on 23 June 2016, where the UK voted to leave the European Union, will have an effect on the European funds that Wales can access in the future.

Where the Welsh Government sign up to structural and investment fund projects under their current EU budget allocation prior to Brexit, the UK Government will ensure they are funded to meet these commitments.

This includes all Structural Funds 2014-2020, as well as the Rural Development Programme, the Ireland-Wales Programme, Horizon 2020, Erasmus+, and the Territorial Cooperation programmes. 

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