Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The Norwegain solution

Nigel Farage was once fond of saying that the UK could thrive outside the EU "like Norway and Switzerland".

As this excerpt from analysis by the European Movement (which explores a number of different scenarios for Brexit) explains, UKIP voters who want to stem the flow of workers from the continent or stop contributing to the EU budget would be disappointed if we emulated Norway:

As a result of concern in Norway about its long-term relationship with the EU, the Norwegian Government commissioned a report in 2012 on the [European Economic Area - European Free Trade Area] membership.  This found that Norway had incorporated around three-quarters of all EU legislation into Norwegian law, and had often transposed them more effectively than many EU Member States.   The report concluded that ‘the most problematic aspect of Norway’s form of association with the EU is the fact that Norway is in practice bound to adopt EU policies and rules on a broad range of issues without being a member and without voting rights’.  The chairman of the committee that produced the report for the Norwegian government, Professor Frederik Sejersted, described this as ‘a great democratic deficit’.  In financial terms, Norway has contributed extensively to the EU to gain access to the Single Market (and continues to do so).  

Norway, which was already a member of the Nordic Passport Union, participates in several different aspects of the EU’s work, such as: the Schengen Area (the passport free area covering most of the EU but not the UK); the European Defence Agency; Frontex; and Europol.  In 2013 the cost of Norway’s participation in these agencies was £234 million but it has no voting rights in any of them.

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