“ a more likely arrangement is one that mirrors the EEA in almost every aspect”
Oh really? With a new court system, new administration, new treaties no longer referring to EFTA membership? That’s a lot of work, duplicating institutions, complicating legal procedures and of course finding civil servants, offices etc. For a temporary solution? Who will pay for all that? Who carries the responsibility for creating that court system? Who approves the justices? Who pays them? What is the accreditation system for the lawyers?
The EEA solution was supposed to make a ridiculously complicated intermediate step affordable and legally feasible. If you have to duplicate the existing system (no doubt with a lot of safeguards so the UK cannot abuse the system, and the EU cannot make it last eternally), it’s totally pointless.
In more detail: sectoral agreements are not usually allowed by the WTO. But more importantly, the EU is a full-service, complete economy, so it’s hard to see it agree to any sector being excluded either. Is there any sector that the EU wants to sacrifice for a deal? Or perhaps more appropriately: is there any sector it *can* sacrifice without creating chaos in its ranks?
In general, people seem to be completely wrong about the EEA solution in terms of its consequences for trade. It’s not benign. While it is the softest possible Brexit, it will still add 5% to 15% to the cost of any product sold across the custom barrier. It will be the end of low-margin trade. It does not bypass trade quota either, meaning that 100 categories of products can not be traded unless there is a WTO deal on TRQ for the UK and the EU schedule, as well as the schedules of any WTO member they has quotas with the EU.
This is indulging a fantasy. The only realistic transition is a custom union. One that’s not acceptable long term by the WTO because it will allow the EU and UK to share trade quotas and AMS while the UK negotiates its WTO schedule.