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40 Years in Europe: How Was It for You?

58 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 05 January 2013

January 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the UK joining the EEC. It was the culmination of a lifetime's ambition for Prime Minister Edward Heath and marked a turning point in the relationship between the British people and our continental neighbours.

In this quirky programme, one-time Europe correspondent John Sergeant asks a variety of people to assess how the subsequent four decades has impacted on their lives. Diplomat Sir Michael Jenkins, one of the first senior civil servants to serve in the new EEC, gives his candid take on what it was like to work in a totally different cultural environment in those early months.

Claire Mooney and her twin brother Danny from Manchester look back through the archives and reflect on why they voted differently in the 1975 EEC Referendum. Bill Newton-Dunn and Michael Welsh talk about their initial bewilderment at being among the first elected Euro MPs in 1979. There's discussion about how closer European involvement impacted on UK culture - people who upped sticks for a life on the Costa Blanca tell us why and Reggie Perrin creator David Nobbs explains how it even inspired him to write a sitcom.

Veteran foreign correspondent Ann Leslie reminisces about changes in our food habits and myths around EU regulations while psychologist Ronete Cohen, who now lives and works in England and Holland, reflects on how the Channel Tunnel changed her life. And as the debate over immigration controls continues, Archive on 4 goes to Lincolnshire to hear how the influx of Polish migrants has impacted on the town of Boston. The final verdict on the UK's role in Europe is left to a Greek, Italian, German and Spaniard over a coffee in Bonn.

Produced by Ashley Byrne
A Made in Manchester production for BBC Radio 4.


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