By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Great Britain’s decision to leave the European Union made headlines worldwide.

Experts say it’s possible more countries could follow Britain’s lead, further weakening the EU.

That got us wondering — what is the European Union, and how does it affect us? Good Question.

Tom Wolfe is a history professor at the University of Minnesota, who specializes in the European Union.

“On the one hand it’s sort of like a state, it’s a country. But on the other hand it’s also an international organization,” said Wolfe.

The EU was formed in 1950 by six original countries with the idea that European borders were causing more problems than they solved. Today, 28 countries make up the EU.

“After World War II, the idea was if we got rid of borders, if we created much more smoothly-connected countries, there would be much less chance for antagonism. Much less chance for war,” said Wolfe.

Less chance for war, and more chance for trade.

The free trade between EU countries includes goods and services, and it makes travel easier. That all changes for the Brits when they leave in two years.

“No longer will they be able to go through the lines that say ‘EU passports’ in Europe,” said Wolfe.

Great Britain will join Norway and Switzerland as some of the other European countries who’ve opted not to be a part of the EU. For the U.S. that means new, separate trade negotiations with the Brits.

“The practical inconvenience of that, and then the legal inconvenience and then the financial inconvenience. New rules and new regulations that would suddenly have to be created because of that,” said Wolfe.

Wolfe said the main argument for those in favor of leaving the European Union was that Great Britain will now have more control of who comes in and out of their countries.

Reports have shown many of the younger voters didn’t share that concern with older voters.

Reports also show that cultural nostalgia and economic freedoms were other reasons for wanting to leave.

Wolfe believes Scotland, who wanted to stay in the Union, could try and get back in at some point.

More than 500 million people currently live in the European Union.

John Lauritsen

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