Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds I’m Tobias Lock. I’m a Lecturer in EU Law at the University of Edinburgh, and I’m also Co-Director of the Europa Institute here. So, Tobias, what is the Single Market and how is it relevant to the ordinary person’s life in the UK? Well, the Single Market, you have to imagine, is very much like a domestic market. So, it shouldn’t make any difference whether you’re selling your goods or services from Edinburgh to London, or from London to Lisbon, or from Edinburgh to Rome. That is first idea of the Single Market. So, there shouldn’t be any barriers to trade. Your goods should be recognised in that other country, and the same with your services. The Single Market also has the peoples component.
Skip to 0 minutes and 45 seconds So, workers from one part of the EU can live and work in other parts of the EU as well. Much like you - say, a Scottish person is allowed to work in Wales or in England, and English people are allowed to move from one place to another. What do we know about what would happen to those who are currently using the Single Market, in the event of Brexit - so, for instance, UK citizens who are living in other parts of the EU or UK businesses who are trading in the rest of Europe? Well, that is a very difficult question to answer at the moment.
Skip to 1 minute and 15 seconds Now, the first thing we have to know is that, if there is a ‘Leave’ vote on the 23rd, the UK will not automatically be out of the EU. So, the rights and duties that exist under EU law will continue to apply to the UK, and individuals will be able to profit from them, until the UK has formally left. Now, what happens after that is not clear. There is no rule that says that anyone who is already engaged in EU-related activity - say, as a worker working here, from Poland, or from Germany, or from France - or a British person living abroad, working there or retiring there - there is no rule that says that they can retain that status.
Skip to 1 minute and 58 seconds So, that will be up to the negotiations which will have to happen upon Britain leaving the EU. Could the UK realistically keep the free movement of goods and services but stay out of the free movement of people? Well, again, it depends on the negotiations. Well, we should say that there is currently no precedent for this. There is no country that is not in the EU that has full access to the free - to the Single Market in goods and services - more importantly, actually, that’s the trickier one - because services are a lot more prone to national protectionist measures, than goods are. There’s no other country that has that, and doesn’t have to accept free movement of workers in return.
Skip to 2 minutes and 42 seconds So, it’s probably unrealistic to assume that that could happen. We’ve heard of the ‘Norwegian model’ and the ‘Swiss model’ of having a relationship with the EU. Would any of these models be particularly well suited to the UK? Well, the difference between the Norwegian and the Swiss models, and the situation that the UK will be in, is, of course, that they were never members of the EU. So, there is no default model for a Member State leaving the EU, and what would happen afterwards. Now, both of these countries, Switzerland and Norway, have very close relationships to the European Union. Norway is, for all practical purposes, a member of the Single Market - is part of the Single Market.
Skip to 3 minutes and 25 seconds Switzerland, less so, because they don’t have much access in services, especially in financial services. So, the Swiss model probably isn’t probably very suited to the UK, which probably has an interest in exporting financial services. And, of course, both incorporate the free movement of people. And, if that’s what is not wanted, then they are not suitable. What options would be available to the UK to trade with the EU if it weren’t part of the Single Market, following a Brexit? Well, there are a number of options available. The most distant one from the Single Market would probably be a fall-back to international trade law, which is WTO law.
Skip to 4 minutes and 1 second Now, the WTO allows for trade - in that sense, access to the Single Market - or trade with the Single Market - under fairly limited - well, with fairly limited protection. So, the only principle that governs the WTO really is the Most Favoured Nation principle. So, one - if the EU gives certain privileges to one country, they have to give it to all others. And the same goes for the UK - if it gives, say, custom tariff privileges to a third country, say the US, they have to give it to all other countries, absent a free trade agreement. So, that is one option. And, that, of course, would be the least intrusive, in terms of sovereignty.
Skip to 4 minutes and 44 seconds Then, there is the option of having a free trade deal. Now, with free trade deals, the main question
Skip to 4 minutes and 49 seconds you always have to ask is: Free trade in what? Is it free trade in goods? Well, that shouldn’t be a problem negotiating that with the EU. The EU, especially powerful EU Member States, export an awful lot of goods to the UK. But the UK is not a great producer of goods. So, it might be more in the interests of the UK in trying to get a free trade deal in services. And that is much, much more difficult to negotiate. So, that is the other option. And, of course, the third option is then going for one of these models that most neighbouring countries have like Switzerland or Norway, but they usually come with free movement of workers.
Analysis: Keeping the Single Market?
Anthony Salamone and Tobias Lock, Lecturer in European Union Law and Co-Director of the Edinburgh Europa Institute at the University of Edinburgh, discuss options for the UK’s relationship with the EU Single Market.
(Videographer: Tim Askew)
© The University of Edinburgh CC BY SA 2016