UK-EU Trade Relations After Brexit: Too Many Red Lines?
There are complicated trade-offs between the different options for trading relations between the UK and the EU following the UK’s vote to leave the EU. The mooted options range from a customs union, free trade area, to MFN status. The four main apparently immovable constraints involve:
- An end to the free movement of people between the EU and the UK;
- British law not being subject to the ECJ;
- Sovereignty over British trade policy and;
- No compulsory UK contribution the EU budget.
The EU has not specified either defensive or offensive objectives after Brexit apart from the mantra that the UK cannot cherry pick the bits of the single market it prefers. This discussion will explore whether a hard Brexit leading to accepting WTO terms based on the ‘Most Favoured Nation’ principle is inevitable, and if there is any way the constraints can be relaxed.
The UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO) is a partnership between Chatham House and the University of Sussex. The UKTPO provides independent expert comment on, and analysis of, trade policy proposals for the UK as well as training for British policy-makers and negotiators through tailored training packages.