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I have picture showing where the UK is now compared to other countries. (Outside of European Free Trade Association, European Economic Area, Schengen Area, European Union, Eurozone, EU Customs Union).

Is this an accurate representation for where the UK is?

I am not interested in countries other than the UK for this one (although, would be good to point them out if any). I am just interested in if the UK is still part of any of the areas.

enter image description here

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – CDJB
    Nov 28, 2022 at 7:05

3 Answers 3

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I saw a similar image a while ago (December 2021) on Facebook, originally published by Statista and compiled my own diagram.

My main complaints with that one, which also apply here are:

  1. It doesn’t show the before, and the UK was never a member of some of these groups / agreements
  2. It misses off some other European (and wider) groups. I wouldn’t expect a diagram to show every agreement in existence (e.g. UN, NATO, UKAUS, Commonwealth, etc), but the CTA feels like a fairly obvious missing one given its European scope and Schengen similarity. The ETFA made it to the list! The various absent Scandinavian treaties are pretty important to those countries.
  3. The United Kingdom is 4 countries, with varying relationships to the EU. The United Kingdom is itself a pretty important organisation, and is not just one bloc (in this case).
  4. Switzerland, Türkiye, San Marino and Andorra have more nuanced relationships than implied. Plus The Holy See is absent (as is Gibraltar in the OP image)

The original diagram I drew had a number of mistakes, so here is a corrected version:

Diagram of nation state flags grouped by various European Free Trade, Economic and Freedom of Movement treaties, before and after Brexit

Some countries have a * symbol. This means they have similar or equivalent status to that shown, but through other treaties rather than direct members / signatories.

  1. Gibraltar is not a member of Schengen yet, there’s still negotiations going on.
  2. Switzerland's status is somewhat close to EEA but through bilateral treaties, rather than a direct member.
  3. Northern Ireland is not a member of the EU Customs Union but, under both the previous ‘Northern Ireland Protocol’ and the current 'Windsor Framework', it’s partially required to abide by a subset of rules of the EU single market and Customs Union. This was clarified in the linked article, just not in their image.
  4. Türkiye is not a member of the EU Customs Union, but there is a bilateral agreement

Thanks to Rodrigo for these clarifications

Despite the original diagrams having them, I have excluded Monaco, Andorra, San Marino and The Holy See because their relationships with the EU are complicated, often facilitated by their "host" country. Generally they have freedom of movement and goods, use the Euro and are not members of the EU. Gibraltar remains because its status was changed by Brexit.

Feel free to share this image with attribution.

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    The CTA is a bilateral agreement between the UK and RoI. The UK itself is a unitary state. That is probably why neither featured in Mocas' graphic, of economic blocs made up of many states. Nov 27, 2022 at 21:04
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    @CharlieEvans sure, and every diagram has to end somewhere. I just personally felt it should have been included. I don’t see it falling into a different category just because it’s only 2 states. The UK is in many ways a unitary state and in many other ways not.
    – Tim
    Nov 27, 2022 at 21:44
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    @Tim In terms of sovereignty and the ability to make international treaties, it's a unitary state. Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland only have the degree of self-rule that the UK parliament has chosen to give them. The UK could choose to define and structure itself as a purely unitary state any time it feels like, and the problems would only be political (not legal). In particular, it was the UK that got to decide whether Northern Ireland would be able to remain in the EU customs union; Northern Ireland could not enter into that treaty on its own intiative.
    – Ben
    Nov 28, 2022 at 2:57
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    I think this is the right balance in the context of brexit, mainly because one of the main topic still discussed is the NI Protocol and showing how the UK went from being "all in" to "mostly out, but still with a toe inside" can be helpful in this context. There is also some discussion around the status of Gibraltar but it is not officially part of the UK, it is a British Overseas Territory.
    – bracco23
    Nov 28, 2022 at 10:21
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    Your attempt to encode the vast number of EU treaties in a single diagram is outstanding. So I’d like to contribute by sharing the following comments: 1. Gibraltar is not a member of Schengen yet, there’s still negotiations going on. 2. Switzerland status is somewhat close to EEA but through bilateral treaties. 3. Northern Ireland is not a member of the EU custom but, under the current ‘Protocol’, it’s partially required to abide by a subset of rules of the EU single market and custom union. 4. Turkey is not a member of the EU customs but both EU and Turkey’s customs have a special union.
    – Rodrigo
    Nov 28, 2022 at 12:08
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That is mostly correct, but arguably incomplete. The UK as a whole is not a member of the EEA, EFTA or the customs union (although Northern Ireland remains in the EU single market due to the Northern Ireland protocol).

The UK is in a Common travel area agreement with Ireland. It is in the Council of Europe and is a member of the European Court of Human Rights. (And Eurovision ;)). It is a member of Nato. Cyprus, Malta and the UK are also in the Commonwealth.

It also omits several European countries: those in the former Yugoslavia, former Soviet countries, and small nations like Andorra. If these countries are omitted because they are not members of regional economic associations, then the UK should be omitted too!

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    For the nitpickers, the UK participates in Eurovision by virtue of its membership in the European Broadcasting Union.
    – phoog
    Nov 27, 2022 at 14:26
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    @phoog Strictly speaking, the European Broadcasting Union is a union of media organizations (i.e., the BBC is the member, not the UK). Moreover, its name is slightly misleading anyway, as the EBU has several members in Africa and Asia (not to mention the unusual interest in the ESC they have Down Under) Nov 27, 2022 at 21:27
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    @HagenvonEitzen fair enough. The main point is that Eurovision isn't actually the name of an organization but of a network and, by extension, a musical competition.
    – phoog
    Nov 27, 2022 at 22:15
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    Hence my use of the "winking smiley" This isn't a serious point.
    – James K
    Nov 27, 2022 at 22:28
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    @phoog : Israel also participates in many European cultural and sports competitions, despite not even being located in Europe.
    – vsz
    Nov 28, 2022 at 8:13
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Technically that image is correct, but as a representation of the real situation it is wrong. The UK chose not to join common agreements, but they still have a lot of bilateral agreements that de facto keep the country linked to some of the European associations.

Now there is The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement. Plus the Northern Ireland Protocol which is expiring, but very likely to be renewed.

Apparently the participation to the EU programmes is still not confirmed, but chances are that it will be.

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  • The Northen Ireland Protocol is not expiring. The DUP don't like it, and neither do the ERG in the Conservative party, so they keep threatening to withdraw - but absent any specific action to do so, the NIP continues indefinitely. Nov 28, 2022 at 15:53
  • I don't want to look it up but I believe that the original plan, still in effect, is for there to be a vote on the NIP after a certain amount of time. The prediction at the time was that the NIP would be removed at that point (due to the DUP opposition) although that may not be as clear cut any more. At the time this made it seem odd that there was so much effort to remove a thing by breaking the just made agreement whenever there was a process that could remove it later. So, if I am right, there is a specific action coming up and depending on which way that goes it will continue or not...
    – Eric Nolan
    Nov 29, 2022 at 9:20

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