The European Economic Community or EEC (later the European Union) was set up in 1957 to encourage economic and political cooperation between member countries, particularly France and Germany, which had been repeatedly at war with one another. At first the focus was trade: by 1968 each member country allowed goods from others to be sold with no customs duties or taxes charged, and all charged the same tariffs on goods from non-member countries. Over time the focus of the EEC expanded to include broader economic and political union. In the 2000s people, services and goods travelled freely within the European Union (EU) and, although not all member countries had adopted it, there was a common currency, the euro. The EU's success inspired interest in joining among surrounding countries. This map shows when nations became members. The UK’s departure from the EU in 2020 was the most dramatic result of a widespread decline in enthusiasm for the ‘European project’ during the 2010s.
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Source: European Union