About The Single Market / The EEA

What is the Single Market Treaty / EEA?

Many think the Single Market is an EU institution. But it is not. It is a separate Treaty between the individual member states of the EU and four non-EU states (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) to establish the ‘European Economic Area’ (the ‘EEA’ or the ‘Single Market’). Membership of the Single Market Treaty is entirely separate from membership of the EU, is governed by its own separate, non-UK, non-EU law, has its own formalities and establishes rights and freedoms that are entirely separate to those arising from membership of the EU.

For more details on EEA ‘Single Market’ Treaty click here.

How does the ‘Single Market’ work?

In structure and operation, the ‘Single Market’ closely resembles the ‘common market’ leavers like Adrian say they voted for in 1975. It has no Parliament, no Commission and is about economics and trade – not politics. The Single Market was in fact a British idea, giving people the obstacle-free trade within a market which now accounts for 25% of global GDP of £12 trillion and growing!

The single market is complete for goods but, with British leadership, all other EEA states are now resolved to complete the single market in financial services, capital, energy, transport, digital and general services. Some 80% of the British economy is in services. EEA countries import services equivalent to 32% of all world trade in services: this is a more valuable market than the US which imports only 10% of world trade in services. Since services make up 79% of all UK exports, completing the single market in services alone would add 1.8% each year to British GDP.

Why are we leaving?

The Government believes when we leave the EU we will also automatically leave the Single Market Treaty. But we believe the Government has misunderstood the law.

Firstly Parliament did not give Government permission to leave the Single Market Treaty within the powers of the EU Referendum Bill [2015], so the Government currently has no constitutional right to take the UK out of the ‘EEA’.

Secondly the referendum question only asked if we wanted to leave the EU and not the ‘EEA’, so as well as no constitutional right to take us out of the EEA, the Government has no mandate to do so either.

Finally, if the Government ignores its obligations under the ‘EEA’ Single Market Treaty without first triggering ‘Article 127’ of that Treaty, it will violate its obligations under international law and unlawfully and unconstitutionally prevent UK citizens from exercising the rights and enjoying the freedoms which the EEA Treaty gives them.

Why should we want to stay in the ‘Single Market’?

The Single Market is one of the greatest British success stories in freeing up pan-European trade. We invented it, yet it now seems to be government policy to leave it, even when there is no legal mandate to do so.

Britain was responsible for creating what eventually became the EEA  because Britain wanted barrier-free trade across the continent of Europe just like it wants barrier-free trade across the globe now. And because the EEA is outside the EU and the EU’s customs union, we can be inside the EEA, influencing its development and part of its rules making process, yet still have our own trade deals with the rest of the world. The EEA has no Parliament, no Commission and is not ‘political’ in its objectives – it exists to ensure free trade across the continent of Europe. The Single Market  is a market worth 25% of global GDP and which takes nearly half UK exports. Membership of the EEA is our ‘ace card’ in Brexit negotiations which we should seek to hang onto, not just throw away.