Civitas
+44 (0)20 7799 6677

Many countries trade with the EU without free movement of people

David Green, 2 March 2016

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on the Today programme (2 March 2016):

‘It is not credible to suggest that you could have continued access to the single market without having to accept freedom of movement of labour.’

And yet the EU already gives access to goods and services to several nations without requiring free movement. They are listed on the EU’s website.

In Europe alone, several trade-related agreements do not involve free movement of people, including agreements with Ukraine, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia.

Moreover, Turkey has been a member of the EU’s customs union since 1995 without any requirement for the free movement of labour. Among more recent agreements, the trade deal with Canada, which is finalised but not yet ratified, does not require free movement of people, and the proposed agreement with the USA (TTIP), still being negotiated, does not include free movement of people.

There are 28 EU members but far more than 28 countries have trade-related agreements with the EU that do not require free movement of people. Could a reasonable person validly conclude that it is more common for the EU NOT to require free movement? And yet, the Foreign Secretary says it is not credible to expect trade in goods and services without free movement of labour. He cannot be unaware of the countries listed on the EU’s website, which means that his remarks can only be seen as deliberately deceitful.

3 comments on “Many countries trade with the EU without free movement of people”

  1. There is a significant difference between a ‘Free Trade Agreement’ (FTA) and ‘full access to the Single Market.’

    FTAs have lower trading tariffs, but do not usually eliminate them like ‘full access’ does. Meanwhile, trade in services is liberalised comprehensively within the single market. This is not generally the case with FTAs, as Switzerland found.

    What’s more, no FTA has given a country a passport for its financial services industry to operate in the EU. Replicating such a deal wouldn’t be good for Britain, given financial services are responsible for nearly 10% of UK GDP.

    1. I agree with you and add that of course the European Union doesn’t have free movement rules with countries that doesn’t suit the EU. The EU wants free movement for its citizens to find work in the UK, though so will require it as part of a free trade deal.

  2. I’m a bit bemused by all this.

    What does Norway get in return for its large annual payment, in addition to the duty-free access to the customs union which Turkey has ?

Add your comments to the debate here