Italy favours Norwegian model for UK links with EU

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Italy favours a Norwegian-type model for the U.K.’s future relationship with the European Union, allowing the British to keep access to the bloc’s single market, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s junior minister for European affairs said.

“The most effective and immediate deal could be the European Economic Area, the Norwegian model,” Undersecretary Sandro Gozi said in an interview at his Rome office Thursday. “You are out of the EU but you are part of the single market. If you ask me today, I would be ready to sign an agreement on this now, but I am not sure the UK would be ready to sign for it too.”

Signing up to the EEA would allow the UK to stay within the internal market and keep the trade ties that are the key to its prosperity. But much of EU law would need to be adhered to, including the free movement of people — a condition which was one of the key reasons why voters chose to leave the EU in last month’s referendum.

Countdown

Gozi ruled out allowing the UK to start informal talks with the EU before it invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which triggers the two-year countdown to an exit from the bloc.