With Brexit heading towards an unending deferral, NBC News finds Europeans understand very little how EU works, other than expressing how they like it.
The privilege of few borders, easy travel and free trade come in part because of the alliance. Out of a common goal for peace in a war-torn Europe 5 years after World War II, France and Germany devised a plan to avoid the two countries going to war again. Six nations reached a deal to pool their coal and steel resources in 1950. A treaty signed in Rome 7 years later formed the European Economic Community (EEC), which subsequently became today's European Union. The UK was one of three new members in 1973. Today the EU has 28 member states with a total population of more than 500 million, including Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Eastern Germany, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia.
Four institutions work together to run the EU: the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the Court of Justice. According to Treasury data, the UK contributed £8.5bn to EU in 2015. Each country receives money back from the EU to support development and other projects. The UK also gets a rebate, on its contribution, because much of the budget is spent on agricultural subsidies and the UK does not gain nearly as much as other countries like France. After all repayments were taken into account in 2015, Britain contributed about 12.6% of the entire EU budget. Germany paid the largest share, 21.36% and France was the second-biggest contributor at 15.72%.
Starting out as a trading bloc, the EEC promotes free movement of goods and services within the Common Market, and now advances its initiatives to encompass regional inequalities reduction, environment preservation, human rights support and education and research investment.
The EU is Britain's biggest trading partner. British citizens can work in any EU country. EU funding sponsors farmers, boosts job markets, redevelops poor areas, and supports research. The EU has made travel more affordable by challenging monopolies and creating competition. It has cut down the cost of mobile data roaming and set other living standards in Europe.
On the other hand, giving subsidies to farmers has led to surplus of some crops. The EU’s regulations are costly to the British economy, and without its overpowering control, Britain would be more likely to establish trade relations with countries like China and India. Some believe Britain is being restrained by the EU, gains little for the money it pays in and would be better taking back control. Others opt for the benefits of staying in the EU. To this day, the conundrum of Brexit is still unfolding and has yet to be resolved.