While in Europe last month, I heard a lot about the European Union (EU). That’s because Britain’s involvement is being challenged and voted on next week. The International Public Relations Network (IPRN) of PR firms from around the globe recently surveyed its members, including AKHIA, to provide their thoughts. Below is a more thorough explanation of the referendum.

Americans are largely unaware of the referendum to be held on Thursday, June 23, in the UK.  The outcome will decide whether Britain should leave or remain in the EU. Prime Minister David Cameron promised the referendum in his 2015 general election campaign in response to growing calls for the UK to withdraw.

The EU is an economic and political partnership of 28 European countries. It began after World War II to foster economic cooperation. It allows a “single market” allowing goods and people to move around, basically as if they were one country. It has its own currency, the euro, which is used by 19 of the member countries, and its own parliament and it now sets rules in a wide range of areas including rules on the environment, transport, consumer rights and even things like mobile phone charges.

Cameron sought to change the terms of Britain’s membership. He says the deal, which will take effect immediately if the UK votes to remain in the EU, gives Britain “special” status within the 28-nation club, and will help sort out some of the things British people say they don’t like about the EU, such as high levels of immigration and giving up the ability to run their own affairs.

A key point in question is keeping the pound. Britain will never join the euro, says Cameron. But also, many believe Britain is being held back by the EU. They say it imposes too many rules on business and charges billions of pounds a year in membership fees for little in return. They also want Britain to take back full control of its borders and reduce the number of people going there to live and/or work. One of the main principles of EU membership is “free movement.” Big business—with a few exceptions—tends to be in favor of Britain staying in the EU because it makes it easier for them to move money.

In Europe, this is a very keen topic. You cannot visit a restaurant or pub without hearing a loud debate. What are your thoughts? Email them to jan@akhia.com