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Single Market vs. Free Movement of Persons

Brexit by 1 Comment

This weekend saw the match-up between the Single Market and the Free Movement of Persons, which undoubtedly are the key themes with respect to the negotiations concerning the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union (“Brexit”). A Whitehall turf war has reportedly broken out over the United Kingdom’s blueprint for Brexit, with UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet split over what a withdrawal from the European Union should mean.

With UK Parliament due to return from summer recess shortly, Theresa May has instructed her cabinet colleagues to come up with a “Brexit plan” for their portfolio.

According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, Theresa May and her cabinet colleagues are meeting at Chequers Court, the country house retreat of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, on Wednesday 31 August 2016. “Top of the in-tray will be getting on with making a success of Brexit,” said the statement.

What is the Single Market?

The Single Market refers to the EU as one territory without any internal borders or other regulatory obstacles to the free movement of goods and services. A functioning Single Market stimulates competition and trade, improves efficiency, raises quality, and helps cut prices.

The European Single Market is one of the EU’s greatest achievements. It has fuelled economic growth and made the everyday life of European businesses and consumers easier.

The European single market came into effect on 1 January 1993.

What is the Free Movement of Persons?

Freedom of movement and residence for persons in the EU is the cornerstone of Union citizenship, which was established by the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992.

Its practical implementation in EU law, however, has not been straightforward. It first involved the gradual phasing-out of internal borders under the Schengen agreements, initially in just a handful of Member States. Today, the provisions governing the free movement of persons are laid down in Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of EU citizens and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.

What are the main points of contention?

According to the Sunday Times, Senior Tory MPs have claimed the chancellor, Philip Hammond, has locked horns with fellow ministers by resisting proposals that the UK should pull out of the EU single market. Other ministers, like David Davis (Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union) and Liam Fox (Secretary of State for International Trade), believe access to the single market will mean the government will be unable to regain border controls and end the free movement of people – something echoed by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and other EU leaders as they met privately last week.

“There’s a tussle going on here,” a senior Conservative told The Sunday Times. “The chief culprit is the chancellor [Philip Hammond]. He has taken the position that there are no red lines, that you’ve got to stay part of the market and it doesn’t matter what you give way on. Hammond is operating as a blocking mechanism.”

The unnamed source said Theresa May’s team “believe controls on immigration are vital – this is the bit where the chancellor has been dragging his feet. The Treasury wants to run all this stuff. They are furious that anyone else is responsible for it.”

Who will win?

…Please let us know your thoughts…

One thought on “Single Market vs. Free Movement of Persons

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