Question for EU constitutional law or trade treaty expert types

(25 Posts)
lljkk Sat 25-Jun-16 23:59:24

Why can't there be free movement of goods & services but not people/labour, between EU & UK.

I know EU hasn't had that trading relationship with anyone before.
But why can't Britain (or another country) have that distinctive status.
I mean, is it bolshiness by EU or is there a structural reason why it's fricking difficult to do.

I imagine what I'm suggesting still means all the red tape for every business about how we produce all our goods/services, too.

meditrina Sun 26-Jun-16 00:19:41

Up to a point, there can. That's the Swiss model - visa free travel for tourists, but migrating to live requiring work permits.

And the Swiss in referendum decided to reduce the amount of EU migration, and their arrangements mean they can do so.

Spinflight Sun 26-Jun-16 03:23:49

No tariff free services between the Swiss and EU I think..

The EU won't have it, though they are foolish in that way. They fear the city of London when they should embrace it.

The reason freedom of movement is a big deal is that it will eventually lead to a single state. Hence the single market is actually a customs Union as though the EU was one country.

Unless they loosen up theyll lose the EU itself though fanatics rarely listen to logic.

Mistigri Sun 26-Jun-16 06:58:14

That's the Swiss model - visa free travel for tourists, but migrating to live requiring work permits.

This is completely wrong. Switzerland's agreement with the EU requires free movement. There is a referendum result that seeks to limit free movement, but it'll either get reversed, or Switzerland will lose big chunks of its trade deal.

Mistigri Sun 26-Jun-16 07:01:29

Here's a quote on the issue that might give us some idea of how UK negotiations are likely to proceed:

the EU has steadfastly refused to negotiate with Bern, insisting that free movement is part of a package deal also granting Switzerland preferential access to the single market, and which therefore cannot be dropped unilaterally. This has put the Swiss government in a bind – trapped between its constitutional duty and the inability to get the EU to even agree to sit down to talks.

(From openeurope.org.uk/today/blog/swiss-told-to-vote-again-on-free-movement-except-this-time-the-stakes-are-higher/)

LittleBearPad Sun 26-Jun-16 07:02:43

Freedom of labour the is one of the EU's four fundamental freedoms. It is part of the EU's dna. That's why it's non negotiable

Mistigri Sun 26-Jun-16 07:12:56

For anyone genuinely interested in this topic, here is a link to a discussion of legal and constitutional aspects of the Swiss question.

eulawanalysis.blogspot.fr/2014/02/the-swiss-vote-against-free-movement-of.html

This blog is a mine of information about EU legal issues, written in a way that is comprehensible and accessible by the lay person.

Chalalala Sun 26-Jun-16 07:47:49

The other way to look at it is that it's not only a legal or economic questions. It's largely a political question.

Sorry for the tired analogy, but it would be like asking your partner, "but what are the legal and economic reasons why we can't just be friends with benefits?! We can just have regular satisfying sex without any need for the annoying emotional and financial commitments of a real long-term relationship!"

Britain has spent decades trying to convince other European countries that the EU should only be a free-market area. They've always disagreed, and they still do.

lljkk Sun 26-Jun-16 08:14:34

You guys are arguing about facts which isn't helping ;-)

I found a Telegraph article, which precedes the work quotas referndum (thought Swiss politicos dare not implement that yet, btw). So it confirms (I think) that EU-people can't just live there because they fancy it, they have to have a job lined up or adequate financial resources to stay off benefits.

While I'm asking stupid questions... why might UK prefer the Norway model over the Swiss model? How can the Norway model be better?

meditrina Sun 26-Jun-16 08:50:28

that's because the original question was open to interpretation.

What exactly do you mean by 'free movement'?

Chalalala Sun 26-Jun-16 09:54:21

why might UK prefer the Norway model over the Swiss model? How can the Norway model be better?

It's a lot simpler and gives full access to the Single Market, which the Swiss agreement doesn't (in particular the Swiss would want more access to the EU's financial services market)

The other thing is that the Swiss agreements have to be adapted and renegotiated every time the EU changes things, which is a pain for everyone. Apparently the EU is getting quite annoyed by this because it's never-ending, so may not even be very keen to offer the Swiss option to the UK.

Chalalala Sun 26-Jun-16 09:58:53

About free movement, even if Switzerland has the restrictions you mention, in practice a Swiss-type agreement wouldn't change much at all for the UK in terms of immigration, since the vast majority of EU immigrants come here to work, not to sponge off benefits.

Chalalala Sun 26-Jun-16 10:18:47

OP, this may help:

www.cer.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/attachments/pdf/2014/pb_britishtrade_16jan14-8285.pdf

Someone else posted it in a different thread, and I've found it really helpful. It sets out the different options for trade arrangements very clearly, and explains the advantages and drawbacks of each of them.

lljkk Sun 26-Jun-16 10:19:43

Fair enough meditrina, not sure what I meant, just something that gave the Leavers the "Control our borders" they wanted. Thanks to Chalala for those details, too.

geekaMaxima Sun 26-Jun-16 10:38:04

The basic thing to remember is that the EU has no good reason to offer free movement of goods/services (one of its major perks) without getting free movement of people (one of its major goals) in return. It's not bolshiness - just normal diplomatic/trade negotiations.

Why should the EU give away something as major as access to the common market without getting back something equally sizeable? They're in the powerful position and can set the terms of any model agreement.

The Norway model involves paying a lot of money for full access to the single market and agreeing to free movement of people (amongst a lot of other conditions where Norway changes its domestic legislation to accommodate changes in EU law). The Swiss model involves paying a lot of money for partial access to the single market and agreeing to free movement of people (amongst a lot of other conditions where Switzerland might change its domestic legislation to accommodate EU law in return for increased access to the single market).

Both models are expensive and require the countries involved adopting EU law that they (as outsiders) have not been involved in making and allowing free movement of people. Any deal the UK makes will require similar conditions or access to the single market is off the table.

RiceCrispieTreats Sun 26-Jun-16 10:56:36

The only thing that will give Leavers the full control of their borders they want is either:

- a cherry-picking arrangement, which Brussels is NOT going to agree to, or
- no agreement at all: full tariff barriers, etc.

The Leave campaign was always built on a lie. There's no deal acceptable to the other side where the UK gets access to markets but gives nothing in return.

Thistledew Sun 26-Jun-16 11:07:15

There are practical concerns too- yes, for some businesses it is possible for (say) a French company to say "I am selling X" and a British company to say "Thanks, please send me 10 X" and for those goods to be sent by mail without import tax etc having to be paid.

But for a large number of businesses, the French company would say "I am selling X, but I need to send over Jaques who will measure up for you, Amelie, who will come and discuss the terms of the contract between us, and then Philipe who will come with the truck and deliver it to you". If Jaques, Amelie and Philipe each have to apply for and obtain a visa to do this, the French company may not think it worth their while, or will bump up the price to account for the hassle.

That is to simplify things hugely, and there are many more logistical problems that controlled borders cause businesses.

lljkk Sun 26-Jun-16 11:17:30

I am a British citizen.
If Article 50 never gets invoked, it sounds to me like I could reside in another EU member state. I might not get benefits, but I could simply rock up & decide to make a home there, live on the streets if I like. I don't need a job before I go or a permit in order to simply live there.

Whereas it sounds like with Swiss system, someone must have a job there to get the work visa or show sufficient means to probably stay off benefits (the Telegraph article talks about folk retiring to Switzerland). That sufficient wealth is a lot of wealth.

Since Switzerland is a big financial centre (very different model from London, I get that), then Switzerland seems like a viable relationship we could push for.

I wasn't clear how easy is it to get a Swiss work permit, presumably not too tough because they have so very many non-Swiss folk living there.

Mistigri Sun 26-Jun-16 11:27:55

You have to be seeking work to benefit from free movement in the EU. It's not and never has been a right to pitch up and claim benefits.

geekaMaxima Sun 26-Jun-16 11:34:22

If Article 50 never gets invoked, it sounds to me like I could reside in another EU member state. I might not get benefits, but I could simply rock up & decide to make a home there, live on the streets if I like. I don't need a job before I go or a permit in order to simply live there.

No, it doesn't work like that. Free movement of people gives you the right to rock up to another country and look for a job and be employed without needing a visa.

However, different countries in the EU set different residency requirements, so you wouldn't be allowed to stay longer than 3 months without (for example) having a job or enough money to support yourself, healthcare insurance, etc.

Once you're in employment and satisfy some other conditions, though, free movement means you have the same rights as citizens of the country you're in, ad can access benefits, bring over family members, etc.

RiceCrispieTreats Sun 26-Jun-16 12:01:07

If Article 50 never gets invoked, it sounds to me like I could reside in another EU member state. I might not get benefits, but I could simply rock up & decide to make a home there, live on the streets if I like. I don't need a job before I go or a permit in order to simply live there.

Holy misinformation, Batman!

The reason that residence rights are restricted to 6 months for jobseekers in Norway and Switzerland et al, is because those are the rules for the entire EU, with the EEA also has to apply.

I just had to explain this on another thread.

Seriously: Every EU citizen in the UK right now is restricted in their right to reside here. Jobseekers have 6 months to find a job. Pensioners need to have proof of social cover. Stundents need to be in education.

No-one has the right to rock up to another EU country, stay there, and use the social services indefinitely. NO ONE.

The information IS all out there, it's really simple to find and to understand, too:

europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/residence/index_en.htm

geekaMaxima Sun 26-Jun-16 12:12:51

6 months to look for work, not 3 months ffs. Don't know what happened there. My thumb is clearly anti-immigration.

lljkk Sun 26-Jun-16 13:27:44

It always confuses me how British talk endlessly about benefits (social services) as part of choices about what to do or where to live. You really are obsessed with benefits as part of life choices.

What I meant was, I could be homeless bum (on NO BENEFITS in Germany or France or another EU member state, and maybe Norway too). But not in Switzerland. Vagrancy and begging laws might make my homeless life on streets hell, admittedly (and winter weather). I have passport to a non-EU country & I have the right to go be a homeless bum there, too.

There's a guy who lives on the beach cliffs near me. I bet he could get a council home, but he likes the cliffs better. Not every destitute British person thinks about benefits, I guess.

RiceCrispieTreats Sun 26-Jun-16 13:53:13

No, lljkk. You couldn't legally remain on the soil of any country, bum or not, for longer than that country allows non-nationals to be there.

EU and EEA countries would also be in their rights to kick you out after 6 months.

Please read the links of official civil service information I posted.

There is no free pass in the EU or EEA for anyone to move to another country for as long as they like without having good cause to be there.

lljkk Sun 26-Jun-16 14:16:06

Okay, fair enough, not permanent (sorry, but the links you posted are a maze!!).
And seems like I could get 3 months of begging time in Switzerland, too, so the Swiss model doesn't keep out homeless bums either... unless they implement their referendum result that (I understand) they still not dare implement.

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