On June 23, 2016, Great Britain voted to exit the European Union (EU). Nicknamed "Brexit," this vote also triggered Prime Minister David Cameron to announce his plans to step down by October. The European Union started as an economic cooperative in 1951 with Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Since then, others joined; the last entrant was Croatia in July 2013, bringing the total to 28 countries.
Countries seeking to join the Union must meet specific criteria (political, economic, and legal). The three stage process includes: a prospect stage; a candidate stage; then finally, a formal membership negotiation stage. After meeting all the requirements, the current EU countries must agree to accept the candidate country.
President Obama officially responded to the vote: "The people of the United Kingdom have spoken, and we respect their decision. The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is enduring, and the United Kingdom’s membership in NATO remains a vital cornerstone of U.S. foreign, security, and economic policy. So too is our relationship with the European Union, which has done so much to promote stability, stimulate economic growth, and foster the spread of democratic values and ideals across the continent and beyond. The United Kingdom and the European Union will remain indispensable partners of the United States even as they begin negotiating their ongoing relationship to ensure continued stability, security, and prosperity for Europe, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the world." The United States has maintained a Mission to the EU since 1961.
White House; State Department, 6/2016; 6/2016
This map has also been used:
- United Kingdom, July 2012