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The Prime Minister’s Lancaster House speech made clear that the UK will leave the key aspects of the European Union’s Customs Union (EUCU) and the single market in goods, services, capital and people. In a new report, Open Europe argues that leaving the EU’s Customs Union is the only logical step for the UK to pursue an independent trade policy and achieve a truly ‘Global Britain’ outside the EU. The study concludes it is in both the UK’s and EU’s interest to quickly secure full cooperation on the practicalities and administration of customs as part of a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Furthermore the UK should not seek a ‘half-in, half-out’ arrangement, which would be the worst of all worlds. It should leave EUCU entirely to maximise opportunities. Prime Minister Theresa May has suggested that she is open to being an “associate member” of EUCU or remaining a signatory to elements of it. Open Europe believes that, while it is sensible to keep an open mind, no ‘half-in’ option is better than being fully out. Nonetheless, the UK should consider retaining membership of some relevant conventions.

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