Blog Post

Single market access from outside the EU: three key prerequisites

In relative terms, Norway’s current net financial contribution to the EU is similar to the UK’s. Switzerland and Liechtenstein pay surprisingly little, while Iceland is a net beneficiary. Relative to their population, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein received about twice as large an inflow of EU immigrants as the UK. These countries also have to adopt the vast majority of EU regulation to gain access to the single market.

By: Date: July 19, 2016 Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

The new government of the United Kingdom has not yet indicated the kind of new relationship it wishes to achieve with the European Union. However, a crucial element of any new relationship will regard access to the EU’s single market.

Four non-EU countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the European Economic Area; Switzerland through bilateral agreements) have wide-ranging access to the single market. A comparison could be useful, so we look at three indicators which may be indicative about the conditions which the UK would have to fulfil if it wishes to get similar access to the single market:

  • Net financial contribution to the EU;
  • Net inflow of EU immigrants;
  • Adoption of EU law.

The main contribution of this blog post is a precise comparison of the four non-EU countries (partly based on novel data not available elsewhere) with the UK and some other larger EU countries along the above factors.

Financial contribution to the EU

Social and economic cohesion in the European Union and the European Economic Area is a goal stipulated in the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement. Thereby, the three non-EU EEA members contribute financially to this goal through various financial mechanisms. Switzerland also contributes to various projects designed to reduce economic and social disparities.

Upon my request, the Directorate-General for Budget of the European Commission kindly provided information about the gross and net financial contributions of the four non-EU countries to the EU (see annex), which allows a proper comparison to EU countries. The table below shows that Iceland was a net beneficiary of EU payments, while the net contributions of Switzerland and Liechtenstein were very small. On the other hand, Norway’s net contribution was similar to the contribution of the United Kingdom: it was somewhat smaller when expressed as a % of GDP, and somewhat larger when expressed in per capita terms.

It is also noteworthy that both relative to GDP and relative to population, the UK pays less than Germany, France and the Netherlands. The UK even pays less than Italy relative to GDP, despite the fact that Italy is a less developed country than the UK. The reason for the UK’s low financial contribution is primarily related to the UK rebate on the EU budget, which was introduced in 1985 in order to reduce the UK’s contribution.

The net inflow of EU immigrants

Both the European Economic Area agreement and the bilateral agreement with Switzerland ensure the free movement of labour, although Switzerland wishes to renegotiate this. The chart below shows that relative to population, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein received about twice as much inflow of EU immigrants as the United Kingdom in 2013-14. Germany also received more EU immigrants than the UK as a percentage of its population, and even more so in terms of the number of people.

It is noteworthy that immigration from outside the EU was also sizeable in all nine countries included in the chart (note that the data refer to 2013-14, before the recent wave of large inflow of refugees to Europe). In the United Kingdom, more than half of immigrants were non-EU citizens: an inflow which was fully under the control of the UK government. It was therefore a UK decision to let non-EU nationals come to work in the UK, probably because immigrants brought major benefits to the UK economy, as I argued here.

Adoption of EU laws and regulations

Access to the single market requires the adoption of all relevant single market legislation. Furthermore, fullfact.org quotes a Norway government report which says “Norway has incorporated approximately three-quarters of all EU legislative acts into Norwegian legislation” (page 6). And while in principle Norway, as well as other EEA members, may raise reservations, the study concludes (page 8): “Of the more than 6 000 new EU legislative acts that have been incorporated into the EEA Agreement, the use of our right to enter a reservation has only been proposed in connection with 17, and so far we have not entered a reservation in practice, although the first case may be on the horizon.

Switzerland is also obliged “to take over relevant Community legislation” in the sectors covered by the approximately 100 bilateral agreements that currently exist between the EU and Switzerland.

Summary

While the UK’s strategy toward access of the EU single market after Brexit is unclear, the experience of the four non-EU countries having access to it suggests that the conditions of access may involve:

  • Sizeable net financial contribution to the EU budget (Norway pays similar amounts to current UK payments in relative terms, though Switzerland and Liechtenstein pay surprisingly small amounts.);
  • Sizeable net inflow of EU workers and their families (relative to population, all four non-EU countries received about twice as many EU immigrants as the UK);
  • The adoption of a very large share of EU regulations – without a voice in influencing them.

None of these elements may look attractive to those who campaigned for Brexit.

 

Annex

  1. Net financial contribution to the EU by the four non-EU countries

The Directorate-General for Budget of the European Commission kindly provided the following table upon my request:

  1. GDP of Liechtenstein

Eurostat does not include EAS2010 GDP data for Liechtenstein, while ESA95 data is available only up to 2012. United Nations report GDP data in US dollars in 2010 and 2013: we converted the USD figures to euros, calculated the average annual nominal GDP growth in 2010-13 (which is 3.5% per year), and projected nominal GDP in euros in 2014-15 by assuming the same annual growth rate.


Republishing and referencing

Bruegel considers itself a public good and takes no institutional standpoint. Anyone is free to republish and/or quote this post without prior consent. Please provide a full reference, clearly stating Bruegel and the relevant author as the source, and include a prominent hyperlink to the original post.

View comments
Read article More on this topic

Opinion

Europe should avoid a no-deal Brexit

The UK government finally tabled a serious proposal for the country’s future relationship with the European Union (EU). The White Paper puts the ball in the EU court as it now has to say what kind of relationship it wants to establish with its neighbour.

By: Jean Pisani-Ferry, Norbert Röttgen, André Sapir, Paul Tucker and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 24, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

A Brexit deal is still not achieved

The UK paper should be seriously considered. While it breaks a number of European red-lines, it is also an attempt to solve some issues. The question is whether the EU will be ready to seriously negotiate. Geostrategic considerations suggest that it is time for the EU to do so.

By: Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 13, 2018
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Designing a new institutional framework for UK-EU relations

Finding the right way forward for the EU and the UK.

Speakers: Raphael Hogarth, Jill Rutter and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: July 13, 2018
Read article

Blog Post

Trading invisibles: Exposure of countries to GDPR

This blog post identifies provisions of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that affect foreign companies, and discusses implications for trade in services with the EU. The authors provide a novel mapping of countries’ relative exposure to these regulations by a) measuring the digital maturity of their service exports to the EU; and b) the share of these exports in national GDP.

By: Sonali Chowdhry and Nicolas Moës Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Global Economics & Governance Date: June 28, 2018
Read article More by this author

Parliamentary Testimony

European Parliament

The potential impact of Brexit on ICT policy

Testimony before the European Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE).

By: J. Scott Marcus Topic: European Parliament, Innovation & Competition Policy, Testimonies Date: June 27, 2018
Read article Download PDF More on this topic More by this author

Working Paper

EU financial services policy since 2007: crisis, responses and prospects

This paper presents a holistic overview and assessment of the European Union (EU)’s financial services policy since the start of its financial crisis in mid-2007. Its emphasis is on public policy initiatives and developments at the European level, including those specific to the euro area.

By: Nicolas Véron Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Date: June 21, 2018
Read about event

Past Event

Past Event

Financial services after Brexit - what path for the EU27 and the UK?

How will the European financial services industry develop after Brexit?

Speakers: Dashiell Caldwell, Richard Knox and Francesco Papadia Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Finance & Financial Regulation Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: May 30, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

La PAC n’est pas taboue

Dans cette chronique, l'auteur estime qu’une renationalisation graduelle de certaines politiques pourrait utilement contribuer à la nécessaire redéfinition du modèle agricole français..

By: Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: May 28, 2018
Read article

Parliamentary Testimony

European Parliament

Brexit and Energy Policy

Testimony before the European Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy

By: Simone Tagliapietra and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate, European Parliament, Testimonies Date: May 28, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

The effects of Brexit on UK growth and inflation

The full consequences of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union were never going to be immediately perceptible. As we approach the second anniversary of the UK’s Brexit referendum, we can compare the subsequent economic data for the UK and the euro area and see how it diverges from the trends established before the vote.

By: Francesco Papadia Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: May 23, 2018
Read article Download PDF

External Publication

European Parliament

EU funds for migration, asylum and integration policies

This study provides an overview, analysis and evaluation of how EU funds for migration, asylum and integration policies have been used. Using publicly available information, insights from interviews with various stakeholders and a survey of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the authors evaluate the allocation, implementation and oversight of EU funds.

By: Francesco Chiacchio, Zsolt Darvas, Konstantinos Efstathiou, Inês Goncalves Raposo and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, European Parliament, Testimonies Date: May 23, 2018
Read article More on this topic

Blog Post

Completing Europe’s banking union means breaking the bank-sovereign vicious circle

Several euro area leaders, including the German chancellor, her finance minister, and the French president, have recently referred to the need to “complete the banking union.”. These public calls echo those made in more formal settings, and inevitably raise the question of what criteria should be used to assess the banking union’s completeness.

By: Isabel Schnabel and Nicolas Véron Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Date: May 17, 2018
Load more posts