- Britain, Denmark and Ireland join the bloc, taking the number of members to nine.
PARIS: For more than six decades, the European Union has expanded to encompass 28 member countries, and Britain's departure marked its first contraction.
Here is a timeline:
-- 1957: Six countries -- Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands -- sign the Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community (EEC), the precursor to the EU.
-- 1973: Britain, Denmark and Ireland join the bloc, taking the number of members to nine.
-- 1981: Greece becomes the 10th member.
-- 1986: Portugal and Spain join.
-- 1995: Austria, Finland and Sweden enter what has evolved into the EU, which now has 15 members. Norway rejects accession in a referendum.
-- 2004: Eight ex-communist Eastern European countries and two Mediterranean nations join: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. The bloc swells to 25 members.
-- 2007: Bulgaria and Romania take the EU to 27 member nations. -- 2013: Croatia becomes the 28th.
-- 2020: Britain becomes the first member state to leave the EU, after a seismic 2016 referendum vote to quit the bloc. It finally leaves the bloc's single market and customs union on the last day of 2020.