The Brexit negotiations are in crisis.

MPs have already rejected the deal the PM agreed with the EU by an enormous margin.

On 12th March MPs will vote again.

A second defeat looks likely.

This is likely to be followed by a vote to reject a no-deal Brexit and another vote mandating the PM to request a 3 month extension of Article 50

 

The UK needs a Plan B.

 One that can be negotiated quickly.

One that both Leavers and Remainers can back.

One that delivers on the referendum result.

That plan is Common Market 2.0

known as 'Norway Plus' by Michel Barnier.

 

 It's the only alternative plan that the EU might sign up to at this late stage

It's the only alternative plan which might win a Parliamentary majority

 It's the only alternative plan that would protect jobs and preserve the Union of the UK

What is involved in Common Market 2.0?

  • The UK accepts the current draft Withdrawal Agreement but renegotiates the Political Declaration and agrees that a Norway style deal will be the basis of our future relationship with the European Union

  • At the end of the transition, the UK joins the European Free Trade Association (Efta) but negotiates a derogation so that the UK does not have to participate in Efta's free trade agreements and can maintain a comprehensive customs arrangement with the EU

  • On its accession to Efta, the UK moves into the Efta pillar of the European Economic Area (EEA), the common market that binds the economies of the EU with the economies of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein

  • At the same time the UK joins a comprehensive customs arrangement with the EU, which maintains a Common External Tariff and makes it possible to maintain frictionless trade and no hard border in Ireland

  • As soon as the UK's membership of the EEA has been reactivated by our accession to Efta, the backstop protocol in the Withdrawal Agreement falls away

  • By December 2020 the UK leaves the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and joins the Efta Court

  • By December 2020 the UK leaves the Common Agricultural Policy

  • By December 2020 the UK leaves the Common Fisheries Policy and becomes an independent coastal state

  • After December 2020 the UK remains in the Single Market and can take part in "decision-shaping" for new Single Market regulations and directives

  • After December 2020 the UK remains subject to freedom of movement but has a new reserve power which might be used to impose temporary limits on immigration if "serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties" arise

  • After December 2020 the UK remains outside the Schengen 'open borders' regime

 

The full report can be accessed by using the link: Common Market 2.0

What are the advantages of Common Market 2.0?

It is the only other deal that the EU is ready to sign up to

  • EEA and Efta already exist so joining them wouldn’t require the negotiation of a bespoke set of arrangements

  • Unlike a Canada-style Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the EU could agree to a Norway style deal straight away

  • The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and both the Irish and Norwegian Prime Ministers have all spoken in favour of the idea

It is the only deal that can win a Parliamentary majority

  • Unlike a Canada-style FTA, no deal or a second referendum, Common Market 2.0 is likely to secure the support of a majority of MPs

  • Common Market 2.0 would deliver the result of the 2016 referendum without much delay

  • Common Market 2.0 provides a platform from which we could negotiate a longer-term deal securing greater control

It is the only alternative deal that would protect jobs and preserve the union of the UK

  • Unlike a Canada-style FTA and no deal, a Norway style deal would prevent a hard border in Ireland

  • Common Market 2.0 would protect manufacturing supply chains and jobs, and maintain frictionless trade with the EU

  • Common Market 2.0 would not require Northern Ireland to accept different rules than the rest of the UK

Common Market 2.0 Q&A

Is there enough time to negotiate a Common Market 2.0 agreement before March 2019?

Common Market 2.0 would not require any change in the Withdrawal Agreement.  There is more than enough time to negotiate and conclude a new Political Declaration enshrining a Norway style arrangement as the basis for the UK's future relationship with the EU. The transition ("Implementation Period") would give us the time we would need to finalise and implement the agreement with the EU and the Efta states.

Isn’t it clear that the EU won’t agree to the UK pursuing a Common Market 2.0 arrangement?

No. Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Negotiator, has always said that a model that combined EEA/Efta and a customs union was one that he would be happy to consider. Common Market 2.0 would preserve frictionless trade and not threaten the EU’s cherished ‘4 freedoms’. 

To join the EEA doesn’t the UK have to be a member of the EU or Efta first?

The UK is already a member of the EEA and has not given the necessary 12 months notice of an intention to leave.  We would apply to join Efta and the Efta pillar of the EEA.

Is a customs arrangement that preserves no hard border in Ireland compatible with article 56(3) of Efta?

It will involve a derogation from the Efta Agreement that will require the approval of the existing Efta states. Both the Norwegian Prime Minister and the Icelandic Foreign Minister have stated publicly that they would welcome a British application to join Efta and stay in the EEA. Furthermore it would be in their interests to do so. The UK is Norway’s largest export market. We are Iceland’s second largest market.

Will the UK have a unilateral right to leave the EEA/Efta at a time of its own choosing?

Indefinite membership of EEA/Efta and a customs arrangement would be the basis for the UK's future relationship with the EU. Under the EEA Agreement members have the right to withdraw with one year’s notice.

Doesn’t Common Market 2.0 still have the same problems with the Irish backstop as Chequers?

As members of EEA and Efta, with continuity in our current customs and VAT arrangements, there would be no need for any regulatory, customs or VAT checks at any border between the UK and the EU.

What will the border look like under a Common Market 2.0 arrangement?

Michel Barnier has confirmed that what he calls 'Norway Plus' is the only Brexit option that delivers frictionless trade. There would be no need for any new checks at the border. 

Will the UK’s immigration policy from Europe change under Common Market 2.0?

If the U.K. enters the Efta pillar of the EEA, workers from elsewhere in the EEA will have the right to work in the U.K. However, the position will be better than the position before Brexit in two ways:

- first, under Article 112 (1) of the EEA Agreement, we will have an ‘emergency brake’ which will allow us to cap migration if events give rise to “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties of a sectorial or regional nature”; and

- second, as a result of the Government’s preparations for Brexit, we are registering all EEA nationals in the UK; we will therefore be in a position to identify any EEA nationals who settle in the U.K. but do not find work within a few months, and will be able to remove them as other EU countries with registration schemes in place already do.

How much money will the UK send to Brussels under Common Market 2.0? Will we still pay a £39bn divorce bill on leaving the EU?

We would sign the draft Withdrawal Agreement so we would honour the £39 billion divorce settlement. As members of the Efta pillar of the EEA we would pay for what we access from Single Market programmes and agencies. This would be substantially less than our contribution as member of the EU.

Doesn’t the Common Market 2.0 arrangement prevent the UK from securing its own trade deals?

To avoid a hard border in Ireland the UK would enter a comprehensive customs arrangement with the EU. When the UK and the EU agree new systems and procedures which remove the need for customs checks at the Irish border, the UK will be free to sign trade deals with third parties or become a party to Efta's existing free trade agreements.

How long would Common Market 2.0 last?

Indefinitely. A Norway style relationship would take the UK out of the EU and maximise our options for the future. There would be no time limit on our membership but nor could the UK be kept in the EEA against our will.

Recent coverage:

Alan Johnson & John Denham in The Sunday Times, 10th February 2019:

OK, Norway-plus isn't perfect - but it offers something for everyone

Lucy Powell MP in Labour List, 1st February 2019: 

Purists will never back a deal. Pragmatists should unite around Common Market 2.0

Bim Afolami MP & Seema Malhotra MP in The Financial Times, 22nd January 2019:

An EEA-style compromise has value for the City

Seema Malhotra MP & Sir Nicholas Soames MP in The Sunday Times, 13th January 2019:

If we two can agree on Norway, so can everyone

Nicky Morgan MP in The Financial Times, 8th January 2019:

Norway-style Brexit would allow UK to shape rules on finance

Lucy Powell MP in Labour List, 7th January 2019:

Common Market 2.0 can break the Brexit deadlock

Robert Halfon MP & Lucy Powell MP in The Telegraph, 6th January 2019:

Time for MPs to grasp the nettle and unite behind a 'Common Market 2.0' Brexit

Nick Boles MP in Conservative Home, 18th December 2018:

Demolishing five myths about Norway Plus

Nick Boles MP in The Telegraph, 3rd December 2018:

Norway-plus will satisfy most of our Brexit goals

Nicky Morgan MP in Conservative Home, 3rd December 2018:

The only credible alternative plan is Norway Plus. And that may well be what parliament ends up supporting

Nick Boles MP in The Financial Times, 27th November 2018:

Only the 'Norway Plus' plan can save Brexit

Editorial in The Evening Standard, 26th November 2018:

Evening Standard comment: Can Mrs May back into a new Brexit consensus

Baroness Cavendish in The Financial Times, 23rd November 2018:

There is still the Norway-style alternative to May’s Brexit deal

Nick Boles MP in The Sunday Times, 11th November 2018:

Don’t panic if Chequers gets chucked. What works for Norwegians would work for us

George Trefgarne in Conservative Home, 1st November 2018:

Why Norway-to-Canada is practical and legal - and offers the UK and EU a way out of a Brexit crash

The Economist, 1st November 2018:

Norway for now - or never?

The Week, 31st October 2018:

Brexit: what is the Norway model and would it work?

Adam Payne in Business Insider, 30th October 2018:

The Norway model is back on the Brexit agenda - here's what that means

Chris Morris for the BBC, 30th October 2018:

Brexit: What is the Norway model?

James Blitz in The Financial Times, 29th October 2018:

Is 'Norway for Now' a runner?

Edward Malnick in The Telegraph, 27th October 2018:

Senior Brexiteers express 'strong interest' in a 'plan B

Nick Boles MP in The Times, 26th October 2018:

Norway offers way out of the Brexit maze

Frank Field MP in The Guardian, 26th October 2018:

We urgently need an insurance plan for no-deal Brexit - here's my idea

Paul Goodman in Conservative Home, 25th October 2018:

It's time to study the map that leads from Norway to Canada

Ben Kelly on politics.co.uk, 22nd October 2018:

The trade but not the politics: There's still time for Brexiters to Embrace Norway

Nicky Morgan MP in The Sunday Times, 21st October 2018:

Norway deal can get us on track

Nick Boles MP in The Daily Mail, 16th October 2018:

My workable plan B that will break the Brexit deadlock

William Hague in The Telegraph, 15th October 2018:

Theresa May has moved heaven and earth to reach a Brexit deal, but there's no shame in trying again

Thomas Colson/Adam Payne in Business Insider, 10th October 2018:

New Poll finds the UK public increasingly want a soft Brexit

George Trefgarne in MoneyWeek, 14th September 2018:

Norway for Now': how we can avoid a botched Brexit

Nick Boles MP in Conservative Home, 12th September 2018:

So you don't like Chequers. In which case you need a workable alternative. Here's mine. What's yours?

Nick Boles MP in The Telegraph, 1st September 2018:

I backed Chequers but can no longer support this humiliation

There is still time to negotiate Norway Plus...

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Foundations of Common Market 2.0

The plan is based on ideas and legal arguments that have been developed and tested by leading statesmen, academics and lawyers during the course of the two years since the referendum.

Former Foreign Secretary Lord David Owen is the most distinguished advocate of the idea that the UK should assert its right to stay in the European Economic Area after Brexit. A passionate and principled supporter of the Leave campaign, Lord Owen believes that the UK should negotiate a Canada-style free trade agreement from within the EFTA pillar of the EEA:

http://www.lorddavidowen.co.uk/

Former Lord Justice of Appeal Sir Richard Aikens, Professor George Yarrow of the Regulatory Policy Institute and Professor Guglielmo Verdirame of Kings College, London recently published a legal opinion on the strength of the UK's claim to full Treaty rights under the EEA Agreement after Brexit:

http://www.lorddavidowen.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/BfB-EEALegal-Briefing-21-August-2018.docx

Their arguments are supported by a large number of QCs and leading practitioners of international and European law.

The most influential of them is Professor Dr Carl Baudenbacher, former President of the EFTA Court, who set out his views on the potential of the EEA for the UK after Brexit:

https://www.kcl.ac.uk/law/tli/about/Baudenbacher-Kings-College-13-10-16.pdf

Professor Yarrow was also the author of the original papers that explored the advantages of staying in the EEA after Brexit:

http://www.rpieurope.org/Publications/Essays_New_Series/Essays_NS_7.2_Brexit_and_the_single_market_revisited.pdf

http://www.rpieurope.org/Publications/Yarrow_Brexit_and_the_single_market.pdf

George Trefgarne, chief executive of Boscobel & Partners and member of the Advisory Council of Open Europe, has recently published Norway then Canada: A new strategy to avoid a Brexit smash:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Norway-then-Canada-strategy-Brexit-ebook/dp/B07GZ1BPGC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1535726079&sr=1-1&refinements=p_27%3AGeorge+Trefgarne

A number of MPs and commentators have written articles about the potential for a Brexit based on interim membership of the EEA:

James Cartlidge, MP for South Suffolk:

https://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2018/07/james-cartlidge-lets-board-the-eea-lifeboat-and-set-sail-towards-a-new-common-market.html

Rupert Darwall, fellow of the Centre for Policy Studies:

https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2018/07/how-brexiteers-can-still-save-brexit/

https://reaction.life/no-deal-option-called-eea/

Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/07/17/norway-option-thing-left-will-save-brexit-getting-means-mrs/

Tim Stanley, Daily Telegraph:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/07/24/time-fellow-brexiteers-took-second-look-norway-option/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

Paul Goodman, editor of Conservative Home:

https://www.conservativehome.com/thetorydiary/2018/07/the-conservative-brexit-choice-seek-to-park-the-uk-in-the-eea-under-a-new-tory-leader-or-press-on.html

Nick Boles, MP for Grantham and Stamford and chairman of the Norway Plus campaign, floated the idea of a transition out of the EU via the EEA in July 2017:

https://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2017/07/nick-boles-why-britain-should-transition-to-full-brexit-over-three-years.html