So, following a referendum, you are leaving the European Union. You have recovered your independence in an interdependent world, writes Schadenfreude, our secret columnist in Brussels.
You have to decide what to do about the plethora of regulations which were the main reason for your withdrawal. A large number of them – for example on fair competition and product safety – may be still important to you and are part and parcel of market access. You will have to enact them as your own unless clever jurists can find a comprehensive way to keep them selectively active.
You have settled with the EU whether you owe it money for projects supported but not undertaken or whether it owes you money because you paid a whole year subscription. You will be asked pay a negotiated amount towards the cost of running the market and of contributing to economic development in Central and Southern Europe. You have received assurances that your nationals who work for EU institutions will remain in post with unchanged career expectations. But there will not be new recruitment.
You want to hold on to the advantages of free trade access to the EU market and reciprocally it wants access to yours. You have options.
You could apply to join (or rejoin) the European Freee Trade Agreement (EFTA), with Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway. It has a deal with the EU to make up the European Economic Area (EEA). Some Norwegians talk about “democracy by fax”. In order to maintain access Norway automatically adopts new EU regulations affecting trade without negotiating the input.
Or like the Swiss, who dislike entanglements, you could make your own agreement or series of mini-agreements with the EU.
Some EFTA members have joined the Schengen agreement on the abolition of passport control at frontiers. You are not obliged to follow suit and will not. No change.
You now need to negotiate your own Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with the 26 countries with which the EU has them, plus the key agreement with the USA if the EU has concluded it by the time you leave. Your negotiators may find that they have less clout than their EU counterparts had. As the EU makes new trade deals you will want to match them.
Quite a lot to do, some of it urgent.