There is currently little scope for a radical improvement in relations between the UK and the EU, according to a new think tank report.

The study by the 'UK in a changing Europe' group said there is opportunity for only "incremental" change for the foreseeable future.

This is despite the change in British public opinion, which now records a majority in favour of rejoining the EU and evidence that the British economy is being damaged by being outside the single market.

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) currently governs economic relations between the UK and EU and allows imports and exports without tariffs, but with customs and VAT paperwork that has hampered British exporters.

The TCA is up for review in 2025 but the report states: "The desire for fundamental change appears largely absent on both sides.

"The EU will have little incentive to change the status quo, whereby the TCA provides for relatively open trade in goods (in which it has a surplus with the UK) but more restrictive terms on services (where it has a deficit).

"Meanwhile, the UK government's uncertain political position, the need for a general election by January 2025, as well as fluctuating public opinion do not speak in favour of a clear shift in any direction."

The report also points out there is potential for further division especially if there is no agreement on the Northern Ireland Protocol, which it describes as "the key" to future relationships.

Other potential problems would arise if the British government proceeds with its Bill of Rights that would weaken its commitment to the European Court of Human Rights required as part of the TCA and also its obligations to the European Convention on Human Rights required as part of the Good Friday Agreement.

The report states that the TCA could also be threatened if the UK goes ahead with plans to repeal thousands of individual EU laws by the end of the year.

For instance if laws on environmental standards are abolished, this would breach Britain's commitment to a 'level playing field', it points out.

The report also said that there are deadlines looming on fishing, data sharing and electric car standards that need to be overcome.

There are opportunities for closer ties in UK participation in the Horizon Europe scientific research programme, which is currently stalled in parallel with the Northern Ireland Protocol impasse.

There is also scope for alignment on animal and plant health standards while new visa agreements could make it easier for young people including musical artists to travel between the UK and EU, it states.

Due to a UK decision to leave the 'list of travellers' scheme, children from EU and EEA countries need a passport to visit Britain as part of school trips even though many do not have one.

It is believed this has contributed to a 83% fall in EU student visits to the UK at an estimated cost of £1.5bn.

Overall, the report states that the relationship between the EU and UK "is far from either settled or stable".

And although there is scope for some better cooperation it concludes that "hanging over the whole thing will be the question as to whether the two neighbours have the wherewithal to manage being economic competitors as well as staunch allies".

Meanwhile, immigration was given as the most important issue facing Britain by 56% of people before the referendum and 85% expected Brexit to reduce it.

However, the 2022 figures show the highest levels of net migration into the UK since records began with about half a million extra people entering the country.

Although the numbers coming from the EU are down, this has been more than offset by numbers from Africa and south Asia.