This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for November 1, 2017: Feeling East

November 1, 2017: on this day: European Union formally established

On this day in 1993, the European Union was formally established. The EU was a product of The Maastricht Treaty, which had been drafted in 1991 by delegates from the European Community Meeting at Maastricht in the Netherlands. They proposed strengthening the European parliament, creating a central European bank, and sharing common citizen rights, security, and foreign policies. The treaty also called for a single European currency, which would come to be known as the “euro.” The idea of Europe forming a kind of super-bloc wasn’t new; the idea had been bandied about by Winston Churchill back in 1946, when he called for a “kind of United States of Europe” in a speech at Zurich University.

By 1993, 12 nations had ratified the Maastricht Treaty, including Great Britain, France, Denmark, the Irish Republic, and Greece. In all, 28 countries decided to join the EU and open their borders to trade and travel.

On Thursday, June 23, 2016, a referendum commonly known as “Brexit” took place in the United Kingdom. “Brexit” was shorthand for whether or not Great Britain should “exit” the EU. Anyone of voting age could take part and nearly 30 million people did. In the end, 51.9 percent of voters voted to leave the European Union.

After the results of the referendum, Theresa May, Britain’s prime minister, said: “The victors have the responsibility to act magnanimously. The losers have the responsibility to respect the legitimacy of the result. And the country comes together. Now we need to put an end to the division and the language associated with it — leaver and remainer and all the accompanying insults — and unite to make a success of Brexit and build a truly global Britain.”