issue brief

Education leaving age

In the UK, the government determines the duration of compulsory education, with the minimum school leaving age set down in an Act of parliament. Read More

Elections and voting

How to vote Are you eligible? In order to vote in a UK general election you must be: on the electoral register 18 years of age or older on polling day a British, Commonwealth or Irish citizen resident in the UK not subject to a disqualification You will be disqualified from voting if: you are...Read More

Electoral Reform and Voting Systems

Proportional Representation (PR) is the principle behind a number of electoral systems, all of which attempt to ensure that the outcome of the election reflects the proportion of support gained by each competing group.Read More

Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates

What are Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates? British Embassies and High Commissions together comprise the UK’s “diplomatic missions” overseas. The role of a UK diplomatic mission is to function as the channel of communication between the British government and that of the host country, to act as the official representative of the UK (in general,...Read More

EU Budget – British contributions

The UK has contributed to the budget of the EU ever since its accession to the union in 1973. Read More

EU budget fraud

EU budget fraud has historically taken a wide range of forms, from Croatian farmers seeking payments for climatically impossible sugar cane cultivation to the channelling of funds for immigration projects to what some have labelled Palestinian terrorist groups.Read More

EU Enlargement

What is EU enlargement? European Union (EU) enlargement describes the process of admitting new member states to join the EU. Since ‘the six’ (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) signed the Treaty of Paris in 1951, creating the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the EU has successfully enlarged on six occasions: 1973,...Read More

EU Withdrawal

Since the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community under the Treaty of Paris in 1951, no member state has ever left the European Union or its predecessor bodies.Read More

Euro and EMU

What is EMU? The principal objective of the European Union, when first constituted as the European Economic Community, was to make war in Europe impossible by developing a common system of law and making the member states’ economies completely interdependent. This has been pursued by the creation of a Single Market and subsequently the establishment...Read More

European single market

The principal objective of the EU, when first constituted as the EEC, was to make war in Europe impossible by developing both a common system of law and making member states' economies completely interdependent.Read More

European Union – guide

The European Union is a supranational and international organisation that brings together 27 member states under a common system of law, established by a series of treaties.Read More

Eurozone financial crisis

The eurozone crisis refers to the on-going financial difficulties within the euro area which were precipitated by the collapse of the global economy in 2008 and exacerbated by the record budget deficits of certain individual member states.Read More


What is Euthanasia? Euthanasia comes from Greek, meaning ‘pleasant death’. It typically refers to the killing of a person for their own (or another) good, usually to end their suffering. While virtually no-one in modern society would condone involuntary euthanasia, ‘mercy killings’ and ‘assisted suicides’, where the person killed consents to his or her fate,...Read More

Exclusion of Pupils

For disruptive or violent pupils, exclusion is a school's most powerful disciplinary tool. It is the most serious punishment available to head teachers to tackle unruly students and may be for a fixed period, a number of fixed periods, or in extreme cases, permanent.Read More