Scenario Two: Nothing But The Single Market: Overview

Scenario two in the white paper, presents a much different picture of the future of Europe than that of scenario one (or what we recognise today). Under this scenario the EU recognises its failure to form a broad consensus on many of the critical issue facing the continent. Having found that issues such as migration, security and monetary policy, have been too divisive to form any effective policy to address the root problems, the EU decides to shift its focus. The EU27, therefore abandon many of their commitments, instead shifting to focus purely on the key aspects of the Single Market. The new direction of the EU also requires a widescale reduction in the number of regulations imposed by Europe, implementing a policy of removing two regulations for every new one added.

By 2025, the gradual shift toward the Single Market, has dramatically changed Europe. Issues surrounding the free movement of people, capital, goods and services have been easier to negotiate solutions to, than the other challenges facing the EU. As a result, the EU sees a large reduction in cooperation between member states, leading to a much more uncertain future for the European project.

The white paper paints a picture of scenario two as a Union that is disjointed, where member states increasingly compete against one another. Consumer standards and corporate tax rates become eroded, raising the danger of a “race to the bottom” within the EU27. Furthermore, the emergence of an out of sync EU also will have significant ramifications, not only to the integrity of the Euro, but also to the ability for the Eurozone to react, quickly and confidently to any future economic crises.

Key tenets of the EU are also called into question through this shift in focus. The free movement of workers and services cannot be guaranteed with certainty as members take more nationally focused decisions. As scenario two plays out, the Schengen region of Europe, faces increasing disruption and challenges. These consequences highlight how this shift in EU focus would radically change the Union from what we know today.

By shifting to a concentration, solely on the Single Market, the EU’s ability to negotiate trade deals with other countries and regions is greatly diminished. Failure to agree common positions on a wide variety of issues, leads not only to failed trade deals but also to a failure of leadership. The EU’s role as a positive influence in global affairs is weakened, no longer will other international partners be able to rely on the EU27 to remain united on challenges such as climate change and international development.

As internal disputes between members are likely to increase, nations will be forced to solve these grievances bilaterally and on a case by case basis. As the EU27 experience limited consensus, the gap between what is delivered and what is expected is likely to grow. Posing yet another risk to the EU under this scenario, one of increasing unpopularity among the citizenry.

The greatest challenge presented by pursuing scenario two, is the erosion of the of cooperation and cohesion. While the movement of goods and capital is strengthened, the same cannot be said regarding the movement of people and services. Limited collaboration produces no unified economic or monetary policy, similarly, there is no progress made towards a single migration/asylum policy and the rise of internal borders in mainland Europe. The shift toward the Single Market, however, would make decision making easier, but issues are often solved bilaterally.


The white paper highlights no positive snapshots of this scenario, instead focusing on issues such as, the increased costs of health care for those who fall ill abroad, failed trade deals, differing regulations creating varying standards of goods, water and air quality and the capacity for the EU to respond coherently to large scale cyberattacks.

Senator Neale Richmond is the Fine Gael spokesman on EU Affairs in Seanad Éireann

  • Damien Mullan

    You bring some much needed sanity Neale. I’m absolutely delighted with your statement through Fine Gael’s press office as reported in the Irish Times. Lets see more balance coverage too, the nationalist perspective in the north seems have been somewhat slow at signifying its position this weekend, Sinn Fein and the SDLP need to get on their bike and start filling the airwaves and print space, because the notion that NI is homogeneously unionist is an unfortunate take away from current coverage.

    “The DUP’s whinging doesn’t hide their political impotence. They would be far better off seeking to influence their Government partners in Westminster and working to get the Executive back up and running to give Northern Ireland a strong voice.

    Being a good friend requires one to be honest. In the Brexit debate, Ireland is the best friend the UK has and it is only right that the Taoiseach and Minister [for Foreign Affairs Simon] Coveney should point out when the UK negotiating side is lacking.

    It is therefore highly frustrating to see the embattled DUP giving out about the honesty of the Irish Government when they’ve done nothing to progress Northern Ireland’s position in the Brexit conversation despite having ample opportunities to do so.

    As the Brexit debate unfolds, it is quite clear that those who championed leaving the EU such as the DUP, and people like David Davis and Boris Johnston have very few detailed suggestions on how to actually solve the problems that Brexit presents for this island and in so many facets of daily life.”

    Fantastic Neale.

  • Sean Danaher

    Can’t say I like option two; considerably worse than option one, thanks for the posts and hopefully it will be possible to vote at the end for the preferred option.

    I second Damien in saying thanks. Many of us in the UK think Brexit will be a disaster; and the Cloud Cuckoo land suggestion from Northern Unionists that the Republic should leave the “EU and join and seek to be part of a British Isles trading block” (as mentioned at the end of the Irish Times article) so ludicrous and pitiable it reinforces the view that mass hysteria has overtaken the UK.

    Being Irish my view may not count for much but my English wife (who is a a very senior NHS consultant) thinks Leo and Fine Gael are absolutely right in their approach.

  • the keep

    Lets be clear Neale Richmond senate member should remember Northern Ireland isn’t in a United Ireland and behave like a good neighbour and keep his mouth shut.

  • Damien Mullan

    I’d say Leo Varadkar, or Neale Richmond, would get a warm reception from the 42% of NI that is Nationalist, he’d have no difficulty walking un-harassed in NI West Belfast, or NI Cityside Derry, or NI South Armagh. There is a 42% ocean of green nationalism in your precious NI. And never forget it.

  • Oriel27

    wow, cant believe such ignorant narrow minded unionists exist. God help ye.
    The sooner boys like you are bred out the better.
    Havent seen you once putting forward a concise NI argument for Brexit. At least can you not debate in the topic?

  • Sean Danaher

    The Brexit referendum was won on the Anna Karenia principle “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” The leave position was deliberately vague to allow unhappy voters to believe their wishes might come true.
    The Oxford economist Prof Simon Wren-Lewis has described the current UK position as zugzwang, which is a chess term that no matter what move you make it makes things worse.
    I have also heard it described as Kobayashi Maru which will be familiar to Star Trek fans; I’m not sure DD cuts it as Captain Kirk.

  • the keep

    The very same could be said about you.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Northern Ireland isn’t in a united Ireland but the Irish government does have an important role in Northern Ireland through both the north south ministerial council and as a joint guarantor of the GFA. I think it is therefore entirely appropriate for members of Seanad Éireann to express views on Northern Ireland publicly. This isn’t 1965 or 1985 when the Irish state had no role here.

  • Sean Danaher

    Mutual contempt is not a good starting place and I’m surprised a moderator has not been in to show you and “the keep” a red card. All the Unionist I know are good decent people. I might not agree with them but its a free country as my mother used to say. I would however like to see a well argued case as to how Brexit will be good for NI; if one already exists I am open minded enough to read it. There are some very good academics at QUB and UU and some surely have risen to the challenge?

  • Damien Mullan

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the likes of Keep. They feign outrage. Their absolutism about the sovereign virginity of NI isn’t bought buy people in NI never mind by the world beyond. It took an American Senator, George Mitchell, to chair the peace talks that lead to the GFA. An outsider, or to use the more offensive and commonly used British term, a foreigner. The DUP have zero respect for their nationalist neighbours, who expect the Irish government to take a keen and profound interest in NI affairs. The DUP don’t accept this of course, which is why we are ultimately at the impasse we are concerning the restoration of the institutions at Stormont, the lack of civility and respect. We live in a profoundly and deeply divided society, from which irreconcilable contests of identity emanate, but the DUP and other unionists refuse to acknowledge that, and pretend to stick to Margret Thatchers adage that, “Northern Ireland is as British as Finchley”, which would only hold true if a massive 40% of the population of Finchley wished for incorporation with France. If unionists truly want peace and good neighborliness from nationalists, they need to ditch the fake hysteria about Irish government’s involvement and this absolutist interpretation of sovereignty, that might conceivably work in the Falklands or Gibraltar, but has no place in as deeply a divide society as this.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I have to confess that I find the attitude of some unionists is more suited to pre-1985. Whether they just can’t grasp what has happened since or whether they just refuse to accept it, the facts are the facts. Northern Ireland is not as British as Finchley. It is a mere referendum away from leaving the U.K. Ulster is not British. Ulster is a peculiar mix of Irish, British and Ulster Scots. Dublin is not a foreign government. Dublin has executive powers over parts of the north. When Ian Paisley threatens to impose the hardest border possible he is simply deluding himself and those that bother taking any heed of what he says. The days of unionist supremacy are dead. If only Sinn Fein had the wit to realise it.

  • Damien Mullan

    You would expect the fact that they have to enter into a cross-community power-sharing Executive, that the tonnage of that particular penny dropping, would register in unionist mindsets. I just can’t get my head around it, or it’s indulgence by the media, I mean, the percentage of airtime taken up these past few days getting NI unionist perspectives, yet the media didn’t consider giving, maybe even a balanced, or at least something approaching their electoral significance, to NI nationalist perspectives.

  • Toye native

    I voted out of the eu because I hate that a sovereign nation (uk) is been dictated to by the powers to be in the EU.
    And NI is 42 percent Catholic, my opinion 30 percent nationalist if that.

  • 1729torus

    I see Unionists haven’t accepted their ever-diminishing status yet.

  • Neiltoo

    They’re looking for your comments….
    It seems to me though that those that drive these things have already made their minds up!

  • Neiltoo

    Fascinating that all the comments are about Ireland and Brexit when neither are mentioned in the article!