What Countries Are in the European Union?

Which Countries Might Join?

The European Union flag
H?kan Dahlstr?m/Getty Images

Formed in 1958 the European Union is an economic and political union between 28 member countries. It was created after World War II as a way to ensure peace between European nations. These countries share a common currency called the Euro. Those in who reside in EU countries are also granted EU passports, which allow for easy travel between nations. In 2016, Brittain shocked the world by choosing to leave the EU.

The referendum was known as Brexit. 

The Treaty of Rome

The treaty of Rome is seen as the formation of the what is now called the EU. Its official name was the Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community. It created a single market across the nations for goods, labor, services, and capital. It also proposed a reduction in customs duties. The treaty sought to strengthen the economies of the nations and to promote peace. After two World Wars, many Europeans were eager for peaceful alliances with their neighboring countries. In 2009 the Treaty of Lisbon would officially change the Treaty of Rome's name to The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Countries in the European Union

  • Austria- Joined in 1995
  • Belgium- Joined in 1958
  • Bulgaria- Joined in 2007
  • Croatia- Joined in 2013
  • Cyprus- Joined in 2004
  • Czech Republic- Joined in 2004
  • Denmark- Joined in 1973
  • Estonia- Joined in 2004
  • Finland- Joined in 1995
  • France- Joined in 1958
  • Germany-Joined in 1958
  • Greece-Joined in 1981
  • Hungary-Joined in 2004
  • Ireland- Joined in 1973
  • Italy- Joined in 1958
  • Latvia-Joined in 2004
  • Lithuania-Joined in 2004
  • Luxembourg- Joined in 1958
  • Malta-Joined in 2004
  • Netherlands- Joined in 1958
  • Poland-Joined in 2004
  • Portugal-Joined in  1986
  • Romania- Joined in 2007
  • Slovakia-Joined in 2004
  • Slovenia-Joined in 2004
  • Spain- Joined in 1986
  • Sweden-Joined in 1995
  • United Kingdom- Joined in 1973. For the moment the UK remains a full member of the EU, however, it is in the process of withdrawing membership. 

Countries Integrating into the EU

Several countries are in the process of integrating or transitioning into the European Union. Membership in the EU is a long and difficult process, it also requires a free-market economy and a stable democracy. Countries must also accept all the EU legislation, which can often take years to accomplish.  

  • Albania
  • Montenegro 
  • Serbia
  • The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
  • Turkey

Understanding Brexit

On June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom voted in a referendum to leave the EU. The popular term for the referendum was Brexit. The vote was very close, 52% of the country voted to leave. David Cameron, then Prime Minister, announced the results of the vote along with his resignation. Teresa May would take over as Prime Minister. She promoted the Great Repeal Bill, which would repeal the country's legislation and incorporation into the EU. A petition calling for a second referendum received almost four million signatures but it was rejected by the government.

The United Kingdom is set to leave the European Union by April 2019. It will take nearly two years for the country to sever its legal ties to the EU.​

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Rosenberg, Matt. "What Countries Are in the European Union?" ThoughtCo, Sep. 23, 2017, thoughtco.com/european-union-countries-1435137. Rosenberg, Matt. (2017, September 23). What Countries Are in the European Union? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/european-union-countries-1435137 Rosenberg, Matt. "What Countries Are in the European Union?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/european-union-countries-1435137 (accessed November 24, 2017).