IEA Brexit Prize winning entry (part 4)

The Eastern Partnership and the acquis

I left off yesterday with a puzzle: why does Mansfield, after rejecting the idea of joining the EEA (through EFTA) because of the necessity of incorporating EU Single Market legislation, and advocating instead a looser arrangement, similar to that of the nations of the Eastern Partnership, then suggest that we would have to adopt 2/3 of the acquis communitaire? My difficulty is that the proportion of the acquis adopted by Norway and the other EFTA-EEA nations is lower than this, at least by most measure.

I think I may have found the answer. The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is a joint initiative of the EU, its Member States and 6 eastern European partners: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. Central to the initiative is a series of Association Agreements (AAs) between the EU and some of these six nations, and included in three of these (those with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) are Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs). And an important part of DCFTAs is ‘aligning … trade related laws to selected EU legislative acts.’

Then, one can find statements to the effect that a DCFTA can involve the adoption of 80% of the EU’s acquis: 1

80% of acquis

But then, when one looks up the reference, one finds that Wisniewski’s source of information is a journalistic article on the web-site of Deutsche Welle, which is hardly an authoritative source.

Again, in a Policy Brief from the European Policy Centre, one finds that the Ukraine Association Agreement:

envisages Ukraine’s approximation of 80-90% of the acquis.


But then, in the very same article, it is stated that:

Under the DCFTA, eastern partners are to approximate the bulk of EU trade acquis (80-90%).

80-90 trade

Now this is beginning to make sense. These DCFTAs involve the eventual adoption of a high percentage of the ‘trade acquis’, with ‘trade’ possibly in this context meaning much the same as ‘Single Market’. It is thus a looser entanglement than that of the EEA, not a closer one. In the context of talking about AAs and DCFTAs, ‘the acquis’ has been rather carelessly used to refer to the Single Market acquis, which is only a portion of the whole acquis.

Thus, I suspect that when Mansfield suggests the figure of 2/3 of the acquis for the UK, he means that we would adopt about 2/3 as much of the acquis as do the EFTA-EEA countries like Norway. This is just a guess, really, but it does make some sense of the evidence I have been able to glean so far.




  1. Pawel Wisniewski, The Eastern Partnership (Carnegie Moscow Center, November 2013) p. 4. Link.

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