Its fair to say that many people in the UK (on both sides of the referendum argument) have a pretty simplistic view of how Europe works. They believe that its a binary choice – you are either ‘all in’ – the EU, Single Market, ECJ, Customs Union etc or all out – cutting all ties to ‘Europe’.
In fact, the nature of ‘Europe’ is far more complex.
The UK doesn’t need to be in the EU to be in the single market, it can retain membership of the EEA (European Economic Area) via EFTA (the European Free Trade Association).
It doesn’t need to be subject to the ECJ, instead it could dock to the separate, more sovereignty-friendly EFTA court. It doesn’t need to be part of any EU military force, just retain its membership of NATO. The UK doesn’t need to be in EUROPOL, it can sign a co-operation agreement with that body, and also continue to co-operate with European countries on crime prevention via the UNODC and Interpol.
But what about other forms of European co-operation? There are a galaxy of bodies out there which the UK is *already signed up to* which will allow the UK to co-operate with other European nations.
Firstly, we have UNECE (The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) which discusses (amongst other things) the environment, reducing non-tariff barriers, trade facilitation and promoting Standardization as well as the rules and regulations around the automotive industry.