Monday 4 July 2016

Media types need to stop talking about 'access' to the single market

A frustrating feature of the media 'debate' following the vote to leave is the lazy approach to discussing Britain in the context of the single market.

The media constantly refers to 'access' to the single market in its coverage. This is causing confusion for many people, which is evidenced by contributors to letters pages and blogs declaring that China and other countries access the single market without having to accept freedom of movement, so why does Britain have to accept freedom of movement.

So to clarify...

You do not 'access' the single market. You either participate in it as part of the EEA bloc, or you trade with it as a third country.

Participants in the single market (EEA) must follow the rules of the bloc, such as freedom of movement of people and capital. Britain is a participant in the EEA at this time and so follows those rules.

Third countries such as China simply do trade with the single market, i.e. they buy and sell goods or services from/to countries in the single market. They don't need to follow any rules to do so, they merely comply with regulatory standards.

The sooner the media grasps this and conveys it to its audience, the better.