Beginners Guide To The EU – 1

Beginners-Guide-To-The-EU-1Question: Are the Eurozone and the European Union (EU) the same thing?

Answer: No

The Prime Minister has told us that EU Membership is the “most important decision UK voters will have to make in their lifetime” but the problem is that it is a fiendishly difficult decision to make.   Consequently, over the next few weeks (leading up to the referendum on Thursday, 23 June) we thought we would take bite-size forays into the statistics that might help us all make up our minds.

As a starting point, let’s look at some of the country participants…

Countries Not in the Club

We constantly hear about the “Eurozone” and the “European Union” so you might expect that all, or almost all, European countries belong to one of these organizations but you would be wrong.  Take Russia, for a start: it is a European country, occupies 40% of the landmass of Europe but it has absolutely no inclination to become any part of the Eurozone or the European Union. Here is a list of other countries that are NOT involved:

Albania

Andorra

Armenia

Azerbaijan

Belarus

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Iceland

Kazakhstan

Kosovo

Liechtenstein

Macedonia

Moldova

Monaco

Montenegro

Norway

San Marino

Serbia

Switzerland

Turkey

Ukraine

Vatican City

Full Members of the Club

The Euro is the official currency of 19 countries and collectively they comprise the “Eurozone”.  The main advantage of a “single currency” is that it makes for easy trade between participating countries – there are no currency fluctuations to deal with.  On top of that, a common currency encourages people to travel and shop in other countries.  The countries in the Eurozone are as follows:

Austria

Belgium

Cyprus

Estonia

Finland

France

Germany

Greece

Ireland

Italy

Latvia

Lithuania

Luxembourg

Malta

the Netherlands

Portugal

Slovakia

Slovenia

Spain

Partial Members of the Club

The European Union (EU) consists of all the Eurozone countries listed above plus seven other countries that have not yet adopted the Euro but are committed to doing so in the future.  These countries are:

Bulgaria

Croatia

Czech Republic

Hungary

Poland

Romania

Sweden

Half In, Half Out

There are two countries who have already negotiated a special deal with the EU whereby they agree to most of the rules but have firmly stated that they do NOT intend to adopt the Euro.  These countries are:

Denmark

UK

Out but at the Same Time In

If ever there was a country with an identity crisis then it must be Cyprus – some argue that it is part of Europe whilst others say it is part of Asia.  Either way, it is part of the EU!

Conclusion

As we said at the beginning, our country is facing a very difficult decision, not least because it is all very complicated.  It’s difficult enough trying to work out who’s in and who’s out let alone trying to calculate the relationships of one country with another.

Maybe the best bet is for us voters to gradually try and come to grips with the various arguments in small doses over the next 18 weeks.  But, do make sure you involve your children in the discussions because although it’s your vote, it is their future as well.

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