Key dates in Britain's relationship with the EU

23rd May 2016, Comments 0 comments

Britain stages a referendum in exactly a month's time on whether it should remain in the European Union, following an often troubled relationship over recent decades.

Ahead of the June 23 vote, here are some key dates in Britain's relationship with the EU:

- August 9, 1961: Britain makes its first formal application to join what was then the European Economic Community (EEC) under Conservative prime minister Harold Macmillan.

- January 14, 1963: France's then-president Charles de Gaulle vetoes the application for the first time. He does the same thing for a second application on November 27, 1967.

- January 1, 1973: Britain finally enters the EEC at the same time as Ireland and Denmark, after De Gaulle has left office.

- June 5, 1975: In a referendum on membership of the EEC, Britain votes "Yes" by slightly above 67 percent.

- November 30, 1979: Prime minister Margaret Thatcher demands a rebate on Britain's contribution to the European budget in a speech which became best known for a phrase attributed to her as: "I want my money back!"

- September 20, 1988: Thatcher gives a landmark speech in the Belgian city of Bruges which has come to be seen as a rallying cry among eurosceptics for less European political integration.

- November 22, 1990: Thatcher is forced to resign. Her growing euroscepticism was seen as a contributing factor as many felt it was lowering Britain's influence in Europe.

- February 7, 1992: The Treaty of Maastricht, which underpinned the next stage of European integration, is signed. Britain secures an opt-out from joining the single European currency.

- July 23, 1993: Prime minister John Major holds a confidence motion in his government over the Maastricht Treaty after serious infighting in his Conservative Party over Europe. He is caught on camera calling eurosceptic ministers plotting against him "bastards".

- April 20, 2004: Labour prime minister Tony Blair, a europhile, announces his intention to hold a referendum on the European constitution. It is never held, after France and Denmark rejected it.

- January 23, 2013: Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron promises a referendum on EU membership if his party wins the next general election.

- May 22, 2014: The anti-EU UK Independence Party tops the polls in European Parliament elections with more than 26 percent of the vote, securing 24 seats.

- May 7, 2015: Cameron's Conservatives win a surprise clear majority in the general election, clearing the way for a referendum to be held.

- February 20, 2016: Cameron announces a date for the referendum after negotiating key reforms at a summit in Brussels.

- April 15, 2016: Referendum campaign begins.


© 2016 AFP

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