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What were the principal factors behind Britain's late accession to the European Union?

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  1. Internal factors behind Britain's late accession to the EU
    1. A main focus after WWII: to re-build Britain as a world power
    2. The personal views of the British leading figures
    3. The public opinion both in the country and in the Labour and Conservative Parties
  2. External factors behind Britain's late accession to the EU
    1. The economic situation: the role of the Commonwealth and the agricultural issue
    2. Special Relationship' between the USA and the UK
    3. The attitude of the EU members towards the UK, and especially France

To unify Western Europe after World War II, France, Western Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands founded the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951. The Treaty of Paris was the first step towards a European integration. It was aimed at avoiding any other war between France and Germany, and at the same time it created a common market for steel and coal. This supranational organization let new members in and changed over the years. It became the European Economic Community in 1967 and the European Union in 1993. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland joined the European Economic Community on 1st January 1973. What were the principal factors behind Britain's late accession to the European Union? Both internal and external factors played a part in that late accession. On the one hand, the British focus after WWII was above all to re-build Britain as a world power; the personal views and inclinations of the British leading figures also contributed to Britain's late accession to the EU; and the public opinion both in the country and in the Government was not conducive to this union. On the other hand, the economic situation, the importance of the Western Alliance between the USA and the UK and the attitude of the EU members towards the UK were decisive factors behind Britain's late accession to the EU.

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