Comments
 

Alternatives to membership:
possible models for the United Kingdom outside the European Union

2nd March 2016

This paper discusses potential models for the UK’s relationship with the European Union, if there were to be a vote to leave. The main problems with it is that it assumes that any relationship we had with the EU would essentially follow one or other of the precedents cited: Norway, Switzerland, Canada, Turkey, or a relationship based only on World Trade Organisation membership.

Possible membership of NAFTA is not even mentioned.

It assumes that we would want to negotiate "full access" to the Single Market. Such full access would require the free movement of people, and continued contribution to the EU’s programmes and budget. But there would be no point in leaving the EU only, subsequently, to have essentially the same obligations as when we were members. The idea that we might negotiate a completely new relationship with the EU is not something the document contemplates. In such negotiations we would be in a stronger position than Norway or Switzerland.

The tendentious nature of the Government's arguments is well-illustrated by:

4.11 There would also be a cost in terms of co-operation in non-economic areas. Given recent events in the wider EU neighbourhood, this is not a time to disrupt arrangements that contribute to our security. Under any of the alternative models there is no guarantee that we could fully replace our access to the current measures for police and security cooperation, which allow our law-enforcement agencies to work with their EU counterparts. Bilateral agreements outside the EU could not replicate the reach and influence that we currently enjoy in these areas, or our right to choose which we wish to participate in. We would not be able to ensure that EU action reinforced our foreign and security goals, or to use the EU’s economic weight to impose sanctions against countries like Russia or Iran. None of the countries outside the EU that are described in this paper can shape or drive EU action in the way that the UK can today.

Note: "There would also be a cost". "Would". Yet: "there is no guarantee that we could fully replace our access to the current measures". I.e. we might be able to.

Bilateral agreements outside the EU could not replicate the reach and influence that we currently enjoy in these areas

"Could not". This is just an assertion. It is part of the 'strategy of fear'. These are specific non-economic issues, some of them not even governed by EU law. The document does not establish why the countries of the EU would want to abandon, say, established ways of fighting crime.

Richard Kimber, 5th March 2016

 

Comments on the Government's policy paper "Alternatives to membership: possible models for the United Kingdom outside the European Union"
Political Science Resources
© Richard Kimber
Last Modified: 05 Mar 16

This page contains comments that are relevant to the forthcoming United Kingdom in - out referendum on EU membership following the conclusion of negotiations on reforming the European Union or changing Britain's terms of EU membership to be held in the UK some time before the end of 2017.