EC members in 1973
  New EC members admitted in 1973

The 1973 enlargement of the European Communities was the first enlargement of the European Communities (EC), now the European Union (EU). Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom (UK) acceded to the EC on 1 January 1973. Gibraltar and Greenland also joined the EC as part of the United Kingdom and Denmark respectively, but the Danish Faroe Islands, the other British Overseas Territories and the Crown dependencies of the United Kingdom did not join the EC.

Ireland and Denmark both held referendums in 1972 in May and October respectively, and the United Kingdom held a referendum in 1975, on membership of the EC, all which approved membership of the EC. Norway planned to accede, but this was rejected in a referendum held in September 1972. In 1992 Norway again applied to join, but voters again rejected the proposal in a 1994 referendum.

Greenland later withdrew from the EC on 1 January 1985 after a referendum in 1982. This was followed by the United Kingdom holding a referendum in 2016 on membership which resulted in the United Kingdom voting to leave the EU.


The United Kingdom was still recovering from the economic cost of the Second World War. Ireland, while an independent state, was economically dependent on the UK, which accounted for nearly 75% of Ireland's exports, as codified in the Anglo-Irish Free trade agreement of 1966.[1]

In 1960 the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) was established and was formed by Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. These countries were often referred to as the Outer Seven, as opposed to the Inner Six of the founding members of the European Community (EC).[2] The EFTA was founded by a convention known as the Stockholm Convention in 1960, with the aim of liberalisation of trade in goods amongst its member states. On 31 July 1961 the United Kingdom,[3] Ireland[4] and Denmark[5] applied to join the EC. In 1963, after negotiations,[6] France vetoed the United Kingdom's application because of the aversion of Charles de Gaulle to the UK,[4] which he considered a "trojan horse" for the United States.[1] De Gaulle resigned the French presidency in 1969.[7][8] In the 1970s, the EFTA states concluded free trade agreements with the EC.[9]


This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources in this section. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "1973 enlargement of the European Communities" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (May 2020) (Learn how and when to remove this message)
Member countries Capital Population Area (km²) GDP
(billion US$)
per capita (US$)
 Denmark Copenhagen 5,021,861 2,209,180 70.032 $59,928 Danish
 Ireland Dublin 3,073,200 70,273 21.103 $39,638 English, Irish
 United Kingdom London 56,210,000 244,820 675.941 $36,728 English
Accession countries 64,305,061 2,524,273 767.076 11,929 3
Existing members (1973) 192,457,106 1,299,536 2,381,396 12,374 4
EC9 (1973) 256,762,167

See also


  1. ^ a b "1er élargissement de la CEE (1er Janvier 1973)". 4 December 2019.
  2. ^ "Finland: Now, the Seven and a Half". TIME. 7 April 1961. Archived from the original on November 4, 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2009.
  3. ^ "Address given by Harold Macmillan on the United Kingdom's application for membership to the EC" (PDF). Le Centre Virtuel de la Connaissance sur l'Europe. 31 July 1961.
  4. ^ a b "Ireland in the EU – Joining the European Community". European Union.
  5. ^ "A timeline of the EU". BBC News. 12 March 2007.
  6. ^ "Britain's EU membership: New insight from economic history". VOX, CEPR’s Policy Portal.
  7. ^ "Déclaration du Conseil constitutionnel suite à la démission du Général de Gaulle, Président de la République". Constitutional Council of France. 1969. Archived from the original on 4 December 2008.
  8. ^ "Press Release re Resignation". Fondation Charles de Gaulle. 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-11-18. Retrieved 2016-05-08.
  9. ^ "The European Free Trade Association". European Free Trade Association. Retrieved 8 May 2016.