EEASE US OUT OF THE EU - Why the only way is EEA for a post Brexit Britain

Today a new briefing paper released by the Adam Smith Institute lays out the core arguments for why the EEA option is the best exit strategy for Britain.

The paper covers twenty-one key points explaining why the EEA option is favourable in the short to medium term. Key among these are getting a deal that will keep Scotland and Northern Ireland in the Union, staying in the Single Market to avoid economic damage during Britain’s exit, and securing a deal that a large majority of Britons would support.

The paper, a collaborative effort by Leavers and Remainers including Adam Smith Institute Fellow Roland Smith and Executive Director Sam Bowman, is clear in stating that joining the European Economic Area is a method of leaving the EU, and is not a version of remaining. Participation in the EEA outside the EU would however be a compromise position for the short/medium term with a scheduled time limit for review – but crucially it would mean that Britain leaves the EU.

The EEA Option is one currently held by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. It involves participation in the Single Market but from a position outside the EU. EEA countries have a market-based relationship with the EU but are free of the EU’s political ambitions, and are outside the ‘Common’ policies: Common Agricultural Policy, Common Fisheries Policy, Common Foreign and Defence Policy, and Justice & Home Affairs measures, yet maintain so-called passporting rights for financial services companies along with continued participation in some useful science and education programmes.

The EEA Option opens up the ability to make trade agreements with third countries, providing the UK with the freedom to set its own levels of VAT and to step away from its joint liability of EU debts. It maintains the free movement of goods, capital, services and people with the rest of the EU, all of which are in Britain’s long-term interests, but could also give the UK safeguards on free movement, something David Cameron attempted to win during his renegotiation but failed to do.

The paper comes as Britain’s new government tries to firm up a negotiating position on Brexit, and the Prime Minister has vowed to secure a deal acceptable to the whole UK, including Scotland. The authors believe that the EEA Option would square the Brexit circle, getting us a safe and secure exit that keeps Britain united.

Co-author of the report, and Adam Smith Institute fellow, Roland Smith said:

“The EEA option starts from a very liberal, cooperative agenda that is practical and realistic, and evolves the UK away from the European Union. This first step of staying in the EEA but giving up EU membership will be part of an ongoing evolutionary process to disentangle the UK from the EU - a process that ultimately promises a reinvigoration of Britain as a global player and a re-maturing of Britain’s democracy. And all the while, maintaining the very open trade and free exchange we have with our nearest neighbours and friends.”

Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute, said:

“Brexiteers won the referendum but now is the time for everyone to come together to get the best possible Brexit. A bespoke deal probably isn’t possible within a two-year negotiating period, and it is crucial that British firms retain access to the Single Market on the same terms that they currently do – that means keeping down regulatory barriers as well as tariff barriers, since so much of our trade involves services. The EEA Option will make Brexit safe and stable, and keep Scotland on board as the Prime Minister has promised.”


Notes to editors:

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at | 07584 778207.

The report ‘The Case for the (Interim) EEA Option’ will be live on the Adam Smith Institute website from 00:01 20th July 2016. And can be viewed here

The Adam Smith Institute is a free market, libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.