On 23 June 2016 citizens of the United Kingdom (UK) voted to leave the European Union (EU). On 29 March 2017 the UK formally notified the European Council of its intention to leave the EU by triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
For the time being, the United Kingdom remains a full member of the EU and rights and obligations continue to fully apply in and to the UK. - Read full statement
The United Kingdom (UK) is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy with a head of government - the prime minister - and a head of state - the monarch. The UK consists of 4 countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The last 3 have devolved administrations with varying powers. The UK also has varying degrees of links with 3 crown dependencies - the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey. These are not part of the UK, but the British government is responsible for their defence and international representation. The country has also 14 overseas territories which are not formally part of the UK or (except Gibraltar) the EU.
The most important sectors of the UK’s economy in 2016 were wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food services (18.6%), public administration, defence, education, human health and social work activities (18.2%) and industry (13.0%).
Intra-EU trade accounts for 47% of the United Kingdom’s exports (Germany 11%, France and the Netherlands and Ireland all 6%), while outside the EU 15% go to the United States and 5% to Switzerland.
In terms of imports, 51% come from EU countries (Germany 14%, the Netherlands 7% and France 5%), while outside the EU 9% come from both the United States and China.
In the Council of the EU, national ministers meet regularly to adopt EU laws and coordinate policies. Council meetings are regularly attended by representatives from the UK government, depending on the policy area being addressed.
The Council of the EU doesn't have a permanent, single-person president (like e.g. the Commission or Parliament). Instead, its work is led by the country holding the Council presidency, which rotates every 6 months.
During these 6 months, ministers from that country's government chair and help determine the agenda of Council meetings in each policy area, and facilitate dialogue with the other EU institutions.
Dates of UK presidencies:
Jan-Jun 1977 | Jul-Dec 1981 | Jul-Dec 1992 | Jan-Jun 1998 | Jul-Dec 2005
The following link is a redirection to an external websiteCurrent presidency of the Council of the EU
The Commission is represented in each EU country by a local office, called a "representation".
The United Kingdom has 24 representatives on the European Economic and Social Committee. This advisory body – representing employers, workers and other interest groups – is consulted on proposed laws, to get a better idea of the possible changes to work and social situations in member countries.
The United Kingdom has 18 representatives on the European Committee of the Regions, the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives. This advisory body is consulted on proposed laws, to ensure these laws take account of the perspective from each region of the EU.
The UK also communicates with the EU institutions through its permanent representation in Brussels. As the United Kingdom's "embassy to the EU", its main task is to ensure that the country's interests and policies are pursued as effectively as possible in the EU.
Member countries' financial contributions to the EU budget are shared fairly, according to means. The larger your country's economy, the more it pays – and vice versa. The EU budget doesn't aim to redistribute wealth, but rather to focus on the needs of all Europeans as a whole.
Breakdown of the UK's finances with the EU in 2017:
More figures on the EU budget, revenue and spending:
The money paid into the EU budget by the UK helps fund programmes and projects in all EU countries - like building roads, subsidising researchers and protecting the environment.
Find out more about how the United Kingdom benefits from EU funding.