Britain could keep frictionless trade after Brexit by joining EEA and customs union, Michel Barnier says
Britain may preserve frictionless commerce with the EU after Brexit via a mix of each membership of the European Financial Space (EEA) and a customs union with the EU, Brussels’ chief negotiator has mentioned.
Michel Barnier mentioned on Tuesday in a gathering with MEPs on the European Parliament that the EEA with a customs union was a attainable mannequin for a future relationship, and that the 2 weren’t incompatible.
It comes as MPs in Westminster vote on an modification on whether or not to remain within the EEA or so-called “Norway possibility” after Brexit, with rebels on each Labour and the Conservative sides anticipated to again it.
Molly Scott Cato, a British Inexperienced Occasion MEP, mentioned Mr Barnier “confirmed to me personally that EEA membership along with customs union is a attainable mannequin”.
A supply near Mr Barnier confirmed to The Unbiased that the negotiator had informed the MEP that EEA and a customs union have been appropriate, and that particulars might be labored out.
As at the moment constituted, the EEA is barely open to members of the EU or members of the European Free Commerce Affiliation (EFTA). However EFTA has a coordinated customs coverage of its personal, which means additionally becoming a member of each it and sustaining a customs union with the EU may show tough. The EEA settlement because it stands would seemingly want some type of renegotiation to make it appropriate with a customs union.
The present EEA settlement additionally doesn’t cowl VAT or agriculture, the latter of which might be significantly necessary to stop a tough border in Northern Eire.
Labour, which needs to remain in a customs union with the EU, has dominated out voting for the EEA modification partly on that foundation. The social gathering says it needs to retain entry to the one market however has advised it will try to negotiate modifications to freedom of motion and state help guidelines, in addition to a say in how guidelines are drawn up.
The Authorities is refusing to vote for the modification and is as a substitute looking for a “bespoke deal” with out freedom of motion, membership of the one market, or membership of a customs union. It has not settled on a ultimate customs proposal, with two choices, each already rejected by the EU, into account by the Cupboard.
Mr Barnier has previously repeatedly mentioned that the UK must keep within the single market and a customs union as a way to have frictionless commerce with the EU after Brexit. However there was little public element to this point on how this may be achieved; in July he mentioned that “the regime of the European Financial Space for Norway, for Iceland, for Liechtenstein nonetheless entails a system of procedures and customs controls” and that “solely the mix of the interior market and the customs union ensures the free motion of products”.
Single market membership removes the necessity for regulatory checks on merchandise arriving in ports whereas the customs union removes the necessity for checks on guidelines of origin and customs duties.
Some Brexiteers say saying in a customs union with the EU isn’t a good suggestion as a result of it means the UK wouldn’t be capable of signal its personal commerce offers with different international locations. Those who oppose single market membership say the UK can be sure by guidelines that it had little say in making. Critics of these positions say as a big bloc the EU can acquire higher commerce offers than the UK by itself, and that UK companies must comply with single market guidelines anyway in the event that they wished to export to their nearest main market.
“It was clear to me after discussing with Mr Barnier that there isn’t a inherent contradiction between the Lords’ EEA modification and Labour’s coverage of staying in a customs union,” Ms Scott Cato informed The Unbiased.
“This can come as a aid to many Labour MPs who’ve supported the coverage of a Brexit that protects jobs. This may solely be achieved by preserving the UK within the single market and a customs union.
“If there’s something blocking this mannequin for our future relationship it’s crimson strains drawn up within the UK and particularly Labour’s manifesto dedication to finish freedom of motion.”