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The world will not stop still.

The cycle of elections for the year is not over but it will soon be complete for the EU, U.K. and France.

The EU floated the idea of an under-thirties freedom of travel deal with the U.K. a few weeks before the EU and U.K. elections.

It was good that the ice was broken but what might constitute modifications to an existing trade deal should be separated in future negotiations from establishing a cultural deal.

It looked likely from the outset that the offer, to the extent that it was one, would be declined because:

1) It did not wait till elections were over;

2) It proposed a return to the university fees regime that prevailed before Brexit, where the balance of flow was to study in Britain, but which would now upset U.K. universities' funding model;

3) It tabulated what the EU wants but offered few carrots to the British government.

Regretably perhaps but it is less interested currently in offering the young the opportunity to study abroad than not having to quickly redesign the university financing model.

(It now has quite a lot on its plate and we will give it a chance).

There was nothing that might help it get down net migration figures, such as an indication of a deal to stop dangerous small boat crossings to England or removing most of the impediments to retiree settlement in the countries of their choice.

Admittedly many EU citizens left the U.K. after Brexit and this continued because of the pandemic, and the full extent of those outward migrations may not have been accurately counted because our cities still seem less full, but nevertheless high levels of inward migration have been in evidence over the past two years.

Though it is not a prid pro quo, it strikes some that many of the migrants making the dangerous Channel crossing, though only a few thousand, first landed in Europe in Greece and Italy and a deal to take them back could ease the early resolution of the Parthenon marbles issue.

Essentially though, both issues are cultural issues.

Trade is a different matter. British business and finance has created an oligarchical trading environment in Britain instead of one that flourishes by competition. Most of the supplicants at the government's door want subsidies or favours. Especially when they are successful this has resulted in them being internationally uncompetitive as well.

This is somewhat different from having a well thought through industrial policy, maintained over decades. There are in fact few examples of such but South Korea stands out.

In culture, finance, media and universities, Britain's spectacular edge is beginning to slip and this is either because of civil service acts and its advice to ministers or gently declining competitiveness.

So this website's preference is to see greater internal competition first to restore competitivity and create something to sell before entering into more trade deals. Britain has trading deficits and more trade deals will just make them worse though the overall level of trade will rise.

Nonetheless, trade deals have their advantages. Deals with Japan and Australia have made more logical shared defence procurement and though we are not back in territory where Earl's Court is considered an Australian district, exchange migration between Australia and the U.K. is beneficial.

So the ball is in the EU's court to bring some advantage to the U.K. like bringing it inward investment. At one point Japan and South Korea were its competitors in this.

Otherwise, we would suggest Britain pursues the idea of a common travel area, much like that with the Republic of Ireland but with crisis pause clauses, with Norway and France. Traditionally there has been exchange between Norway and Scotland and the north of England and with France we have the entente cordiale.