Brexit transition: what would a Norway-style EU deal look like?

Could the UK be set for a Norway-style transition deal?

According to an Independent exclusive, sources on the European Parliament’s Brexit steering group say that the UK does not oppose a Norway-style transition deal. Following this, the BBC reported that Brexit Secretary David Davis announced his hopes for the shape of a transition deal.

But what would a Norway-style deal look like in practice?

A Norway-style transition deal can be classed as a soft Brexit. This would be unlikely to satisfy hard-Brexiteers like Nigel Farage even if it eventually led to a loser arrangement post-transition.

Norway is not a member of the European Union, but it is a member of the European Economic Area, which links almost all EU states, as well as the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) of which Norway is a member.

As part of EFTA, Norway (as well as Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland) are part of the single-market, but not the customs union.

By being part of the single-market, Norway accepts the EU’s four freedoms: labour, services, goods and capital. If the UK were to have such a deal with the EU, the free movement of people would therefore continue.

Furthermore, by not being part of the European Union, Norway does not have any MEPs and no EU Commissioner, as well as no representation in the Council of Ministers. It therefore has no significant say over the many of the rules that affect it by being part of the single-market. However, the country contributes to the EU budget by being part of the EEA, according to Full Fact, which reports that it paid £740m to the EU in 2016.

In sum, a Norway-style deal would mean the following:

  • EEA membership.
  • Possible EFTA membership.
  • No seat at the table (i.e. no MEPs and no commissioner).
  • No customs union membership.
  • Membership of the single-market, which includes the four-freedoms.
  • Continued payments to the EU.
  • This amounts to a somewhat soft Brexit.

Of course talk of a Norway-style deal does not mean an exact replica, but the basic building blocks show that in such an arrangement, the UK would continue to be closely tied to the EU while having no significant representation.