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The UK’s future relationship with the EU

Mechanisms for a UK exit from the EU

While the EU Treaties expressly anticipate “ever closer union” between Member States, they do also contemplate a Member State leaving. However, as the first Member State to take the first step down that process, the process and mechanisms are untested and in many cases, far from clear.

In this specialist paper, we analyse aspects of the potential mechanisms for a UK exit from the European Union and what follows next:

  • First, we consider possible mechanisms under the EU Treaties for the UK to exit the EU.
  • Secondly, we explore the possible shape of the UK’s relationships with the remaining Member States following an exit from the EU.
  • Thirdly, we explore what the legal landscape may look like following a UK exit from the EU.

EEA membership: what does it mean?

There has been much discussion about the UK adopting, post-Brexit, the so-called ‘Norwegian model’, which is generally understood to be shorthand for a scenario whereby the UK leaves the European Union (EU) but remains part of the European Economic Area (EEA).

Therefore, it would be useful to understand what the EEA actually is and what membership currently involves. For example, what are the differences between the EU, EEA and the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) and how do the interrelationships work? What are the institutions of the EEA and how they interact with those of the EU? How does EU law currently apply to the non-EU EEA contracting parties?

 


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