Brexit and UK post-Brexit trade options. Expert comment from the University of Warwick. As Boris Johnson attempts to reassure voters that the UK’s split from the EU is a cause for “hope not fear” Dr Andreas Kokkinis, School of Law, University of Warwick highlights potential trade arrangments the UK may face post-Brexit.
The UK Government is trying to strike a deal which preserves the legal benefits of Common Market membership particularly for manufacturing and the financial industry while at the same time withdrawing from both the Common Market and the Customs Union.
This is primarily because continued membership of the Common Market would impose a duty to comply with the freedom of movement of people and membership of the Customs Union would preclude the UK from entering into bilateral free trade agreements with other countries.
However, the Commission and other EU Member States are extremely unlikely to accept such an arrangement. First, they see freedom of movement as the quid pro quo for the benefits of the Common Market. Second, they are worried that allowing this would entice more Member States to withdraw from the EU. Third, it would undermine the four fundamental freedoms which form the bedrock of the European project.
Therefore the likely outcome is that the UK will face a stark choice: either to remain inside the Common Market and/or Customs Union complying with EU law or to lose all benefits and be treated in the best case as a country with a conventional FTA with the EU such as Canada.
So the realistic options are:
1. Customs Union and Common Market membership (closest to current status quo)
2. Common Market membership only through the EEA – Norway
3. Partial Common Market membership (with free movement) via bilateral treaties – Switzerland
4. Customs Union membership and free trade agreement – Turkey
5. Free trade agreement – Canada
6. No agreement – WTO rules – United States”
Dr Andreas Kokkinis, School of Law