At the same time, the UK will also need to negotiate a free trade deal with the EU to ensure that UK goods are not subject to tariffs and other trade barriers after the transition period ends on 31 December 2020.

The main points to note are:

1. Norway option: Staying in the EU Single Market and leaving the Customs Union would mean full access to the Single Market for both goods and services, but the UK would have to continue to abide by the EU’s four freedoms, including freedom of movement. It would have to accept the EU acquis and regulations, without having a say on what those rules might look like in the future. The UK would be subject to the European Free Trade Association Court (EFTA) rather than the ECJ (though that court follows ECJ judgements). The UK would be free to pursue its own independent trade policy, though in practice Norway, along with other countries in the EFTA, often negotiate as a bloc.

2. Turkey option: Leaving the EU Single Market and EU Customs Union, but creating a new customs union with the EU. This would ensure tariff-free trade for goods covered by a new customs union but mean applying the EU’s common external tariff for trade to those goods imported from other countries. Following the Turkey model would eliminate most checks and controls for industrial goods, but would still mean businesses had to comply with varied border documentation, which does not lead a seamless and frictionless border. Accepting the EU’s common external tariff would also constrain the UK’s ability to strike new trade deals and require the UK to comply with substantial numbers of EU products regulations.

Leaving the Single Market and Customs Union:

but negotiating a new bespoke bilateral free trade and customs agreement. This is what the Prime Minister and David Davis want to do. Three potential models that could form the basis of such an agreement are:

World Trade Organization (WTO) option: 

Leaving the Single Market and Customs Union without a deal. The final option would be for the UK to leave with no future trade agreement. The UK would revert to trading with the bloc of 27 member states on WTO terms, meaning that both the EU and UK would apply tariffs to trade between them. With no agreement on a regulatory equivalence between the EU and UK, there would be no preferential access to the EU market for services. There would also be no flanking bilateral agreements to ease the flow of trade – an unparalleled situation given that no major country trades with the EU on WTO terms alone.

So, which option?

All of these options need to be weighed for political acceptability, short- and long-run economic impact, and depend on the willingness of the EU-27 to agree to a deal on this sort of basis with the UK. Some may also form the basis for a transitional arrangement while the UK and EU negotiate a long-term deal or while the UK implements the systems to manage its new relationship with the EU.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *