What you might need to know

This is a short video about what you might need to know about Ireland and the European Union.
So, the European Union, also called the EU, is a club of 27 members or countries.

  • It was created in 1951 to bring peace to the continent of Europe. Germany and France had started two world wars in the first half of the 20th century with millions of people dying.
  • The EU was seen as a solution to get countries to work together. Through getting to know each other, countries would then work in harmony rather than go to war and would do more and more things together.
  • On 9 May 1950, the French Foreign Affairs Minister called Robert Schuman made a declaration calling on the creation of a European Union. He famously said: ‘Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity.’ This is why every year, we celebrate Europe Day on 9 May.
  • At first, only six countries decided to take part: France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
  • They only decided to work together when it came to managing coal and steel, two key materials used to make weapons and ammunitions. Two very defined areas – coal and steel – but when this worked, they decided to extend it to other areas like agriculture, infrastructures, energy, environment. This is what we call European integration – increasingly together, in more depth and in more areas, i.e. an ever closer Union.
  • In 1973, Ireland decided to join the club. It came in with Denmark and the United Kingdom.
    Over the years, the club has grown bigger and bigger until 2013 with the latest member, Croatia, coming in.
  • On 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom left the EU. This meant that all its representatives were gone from the European institutions.
  • There was a ‘transition period’ from 1 February to 31 December 2020 to agree on an agreement for the future relationship between the EU and the UK.
  • The UK is a puzzle country with four pieces: England and Wales who both voted to leave the EU. Scotland and Northern Ireland who both voted to stay in the EU. But since there are more people in England and Wales than in Scotland and NI, the whole of the UK is leaving the EU.
  • Why? Because the UK did not like the rules of the EU club. They wanted to make their own rules and make their own deals with other countries. They also didn’t want to apply the freedom of movement of people, which is one of the four freedoms of movement at the heart of the Single Market and the DNA of the EU.