Britain joined the European Community in 1973 under a Conservative government. Britain was the sixth country to join (a number of other countries have done so since) and membership was to be 'of unlimited duration'. This was in accord with the terms of the original Treaty of Rome, which started the Community in 1958. In 1975 Parliament's decision that Britain should become a member was confirmed by a referendum of the whole electorate (the first in British history): over eight million wanted to get out, but over seventeen million wanted to stay in. Therefore Britain continued to be a member, although not all the members of the Labour government which called the referendum were sure that this was the right decision.
Britain's membership has not always been easy. There have been arguments over financial and agricultural policies, and for many people the way the European Union operates remains a mystery. On the other hand, Britain's poorer regions have benefited, receiving 24 per cent of the Union's regional and social funds in 1985, for example. Overall, however, Britain is a major net contributor to the Union's funds. Nearly half of Britain's trade is with the rest of the European Union.
As a member of the European Community, Britain is part of the world’s largest trading area. The Community abolished internal tariffs and certain other trade barriers, established a common customs tariff and a common policy for agriculture and made provision for the free movement of labor, capital and services. Other countries which have special links with the Community, especially the 60 developing countries have special privileges for the development of trade. Since it joined the European Union, Britain accepted the Community legislation. The Council of Ministers, the Commission and the European Parliament are the EC’s three legislative organs.
Through the development of political cooperation machinery, to which Britain attaches considerable importance, European Community members seek to co-ordinate their foreign policies and adopted common positions on a number of issues.
Membership in EC has its critics in Britain but the Government wants to play a full role in the European Community's development.
Now Britain is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch as head of State. Its formal title is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. "Great Britain" (England, Wales, and Scotland) came into existence when the English and Scottish crowns were united at the beginning of the seventeenth century and their parliaments a century later. Wales had come under the English crown in medieval times. So did Ireland, but the British and Irish parliaments were not united until1801. In1922 the southern part of Ireland, Roman Catholic, became a separate state. Northern Ireland, with its Protestant majority, chose to continue as part of the United Kingdom and had its own parliament between 1921 and 1972.
Answer the questions:
1. What are the three main organs of European Community?
2. When did Great Britain join the European Community?
Choose the right answer to the question:
What is it Britain now?
a) democratic republic
b) parliamentary monarchy c) federation