As of today, June 24 2016, the UK plans to withdraws from the EU under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty1. What’s next?
I personally think, we’ll experience at least 2 years of negotiations whether the UK will become part of the EEA (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein), EFTA (EEA + Switzerland) or cut its own deal.
The downside of keeping access to the EU’s single market?
EEA (European Economic Area) members, although not part of the EU, still commit themselves to basic EU principles – free movement of goods, services, capital, and people (workers!).
The same goes for the EFTA (European Free Trade Association), i.e. mainly Switzerland, which negotiated over 100 bilateral agreements since 1972 with the EU, most importantly for its insurance market and free trade.2
Chances are that any other bilateral deal needs to meet at least same standards.
“In short, the ‘best of both worlds’ option for Britain with respect to its relationship with the EU appears to be illusory. There is no available arrangement currently in place, not even in Norway, which allows countries to benefit from the advantages of free trade with the EU whilst opting out of the implications of free labour movement.”
To sum up, it’s likely that the UK will sail just under another flag if they want to stay in the single market while retaining most of their undesired “EU obligations”.
It seems paradox that by changing the tag, public opinion might be far more conciliatory about the same stipulations they opposed before …