The UK referendum: in or out of the EU?

uk flagThe mind blowing general election victory by the Tories has sparked up an immediate controversy: the UK’s place in the European Union. Will it stay in or will it pull out? An upcoming referendum set by David Cameron will clear up the mystery.

What can we predict though? Well, in most of 2012 and 2013, leaving the EU was consistently the most popular choice. Yet, at several points in 2014, the “stay in” uld negotiate an “amicable divorce”, but retain strong trading links with EU nations, hence following the examples of Norway and Switzerland, countries that have thrived outside the EU. Both countries have access to the single market but are not bound by EU laws on agriculture, fisheries, justice and home affairs.

ukrefSome favour the Swiss model, based on bi-lateral treaties with the EU rather than membership of the European Economic Area (EEA), a kind of “EU-lite”. Others say the EEA/Norway model would be easier as the UK is already a member of the free trade area. Some argue for a clean break from the EU, with the UK free to make trade deals with nations around the word. By contrast, many believe that an “amicable divorce” is a pipe dream. France, Germany and other leading EU nations would never allow Britain a “pick and mix” approach to the bloc's rules. Norway and Switzerland have to abide by many EU rules without any influence over how they are formed.

“If we weren't in there helping write the rules they would be written without us – the biggest supporter of open markets and free trade – and we wouldn't like the outcome,” argued David Cameron in speech last year.

If Britain went for a clean break from the EU, its exports would be subject to EU export tariffs and would still have to meet EU production standards.