Possible models for the UK/EU relationship

This paper summarizes some potential alternative models for the UK’s future relationship with the European Union, together with the key differences between the models which will need to be addressed in determining both the shape and impact of that new relationship.

The purpose of this paper is to enable business to understand the principle features of the potential outcomes to the political process underway, rather than to address specific issues, of which there are many, in detail.

In this note you will find:

  • A summary of the key features of the UK’s current membership of the EU;
  • Four potential alternative models for the UK’s future relationship with the EU, together with their key features;
  • An overview comparison of each of the four potential alternative models.


This process is political as well as legal, and so we have not attempted to assess the probability of any outcome, instead we have tried to describe some of the possible factors and areas of potential trade off in the political process.

A “pick and mix” solution?

As we describe in the final section of this note, although various “models” are helpful in understanding the spectrum of possibilities, it is quite probable that the eventual outcomes, whilst lying somewhere on this spectrum, will not precisely reflect any of these models but a “pick and mix” combination of elements from them.

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