UK could become associate member of EU under new plan by France and Germany

Nigel Farage gloats at Rejoiners over Brexit boost

Britain could become an “associate member” of the European Union under plans for a four-tiered system drawn up by France and Germany.

The report tabled by Paris and Berlin includes recommendations on EU reforms as it looks to enlarge.

It suggests four tiers of integration with the “inner circle” who are in the Eurozone and Schengen Area, followed by a second tier of remaining EU states.

An outer third tier would be “associate members” who would join the single market and adhere to bloc’s common principles and values.

The fourth outer tier would be the existing European Political Community, which the UK is already part of, focusing on “geopolitical convergence and political cooperation” in areas such climate policy, security and energy.

The report says countries such as Norway, Switzerland or “even the UK” – which left the EU in 2020 – could be part of the third tier.

It says: “Associate members would not be bound to ‘ever closer union’ and further integration, nor would they participate in deeper political integration in other policy areas such as justice and home affairs or EU citizenship.

“Still, the basic requirement would be the commitment to comply with the EU’s common principles and values, including democracy and the rule of law. The core area of participation would be the single market.”

Countries that become “associate members” would be expected to pay into Brussels’ budget although fees would be less than full members with “lower benefits”.

They would also be under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

Those in the third tier would be represented by speakers inside the European Commission and Parliament but would not have voting rights.

It comes as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has set out his vision for a closer partnership with Brussels if his party takes power at the next general election.

The frontrunner to become the next prime minister said he would be pushing for a rewritten Brexit deal.

But Sir Keir, who met French President Emmanuel in Paris today, has insisted he would not take the UK back in to the single market or customs union.

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