This site contains government information on the EU referendum. No material was published on this website between 27 May and 23 June 2016, in line with the restrictions set out in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

What is the EU?

The EU is a group of 28 countries, which exists to promote economic security, peace and stability.


The EU operates as a single, free trading market, without customs duties between borders and it allows UK and other EU citizens the right to travel, work and live in any other EU country.

Cooperation between the EU’s 28 Member States is supported by core institutions, including the European Council (EU Prime Ministers and Presidents), the European Parliament, the Council of the EU (ministers representing each Member State), the Court of Justice of the EU and the European Commission.

Most draft EU laws are proposed by the European Commission and then debated, amended and approved or rejected by both the European Parliament and the Council, where the UK has a say or vote on all EU legislation and a veto on the most sensitive issues.

What is the Single Market?


The EU’s Single Market is a market of over 500 million customers representing an economy that’s more than five times bigger than the UK’s. The Single Market means that there are no customs duties between borders and less border bureaucracy for selling or buying goods or services. This makes it easier and cheaper for UK companies to sell their products outside the UK, creating jobs as a result.

It is the deepest and broadest free trading zone in the world, and the UK’s position as a leading member of the EU gives us a strong voice in shaping the rules of that market. The UK has also secured a commitment to cut red tape further and to pursue new trade deals to make the EU more competitive.

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