The Flag of EuropeOn Thursday 23rd June 2016, the people of Britain will vote in a referendum to decide whether the UK should remain in the European Union (EU) or leave it. Supporters (“Remain” voters) say that the EU is Britain's biggest trading partner. Among a number of benefits, British citizens are free to work in any EU country and EU funding is spent on boosting jobs in the UK, redeveloping rundown areas and grants for university research. Critics (“Leave” voters) say the EU has taken too much power from the UK government—including the issue of allowing free migration of people from all parts of the EU to Britain—and it wastes the British taxpayers' money on excessive bureaucracy.
A standard EU passport
What is the EU?
The European Union is an economic and political union of 28 member states. The EU has developed a single market through new laws that apply to all member states. Passport controls have been abolished in what is known as the Schengen Area, which includes most—but not all—of the EU member states. The EU's aims include ensuring the free movement of people, goods and services. There are common policies on trade, agriculture and fisheries. A monetary union, in which the euro is the currency used in all member countries, sometimes known as the Eurozone, to which 18 member countries belong, was established in 1999. The UK opted out of both the Schengen Area and the euro.
Unpatrolled border between two Schengen Area states
How did the European Union come about?
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