A few days ago, in response, I believe, to this tweet:
I responded with the following:
The use of – and need for – the word ‘backstop’ in the context of membership of EFTA/EEA where the relation twixt a member of the EU and a member of EFTA (where both nations enjoy a common border), is – to put it bluntly – crap. The most obvious example of an EFTA state having a common border with an EU member state is that of Norway and Sweden.
One can only suggest that Paul Reynolds looks at Chapter 3 (Article 21) of the EEA Agreement and Protocol 10 on the simplification of border controls/formalities; and then Protocol 11 on mutual assistance in customs matters. (All three can be viewed from the foregoing link).
As can be seen Article 21 and Protocols 10 & 11 are the provisions which form a regulatory basis of trade twixt Norway and Sweden. It provides a relatively free-flowing system; but one not entirely without some ‘friction’ – as the BBC reported. It is a fact that the Norway/Sweden system is still undergoing ‘revision’ as technological/procedural improvements arise and are implemented (during the next decade), which will, it is expected, result in smoother ‘transiting of goods’. In any event a wait of an hour and a half beats being parked on the M26 for ages.
To pick up the next point: EFTA EEA = rule taker and that the idea that a bit of pre-legislation consultation but no voting power gives us any influence is for the birds.
It is a fact that EFTA states have the opportunity in decision shaping which is the phase of preparatory work undertaken by the European Commission to draw up new legislative proposals. The EEA Agreement contains provisions for input from the EEA EFTA side at various stages before new legislation is adopted. It should also be remembered that a large portion of law – apparently of EU origin – in reality emanates from global bodies such as UNECE (there are many more: Codex Alimentarius committee, the IASB, IMF, OECD, World Bank, OIE, ISO, WHO, WTO, ICES, INTERPOL, ITU, ITSO, ICAO, IOSCO, IOML, IMO, WMO, IPPC, BCBS to name but a few). At these bodies, standards, etc, are agreed and then handed down to members (countries) for processing into their law. When ‘formulated and handed down’ these have been termed dual international quasi-legislation – shortened to ‘diqule’. Whereas on these international bodies Member States are represented by the European Union, Norway has its own seat and is thus able to make its own voice heard – something no Member State can do. It can be said, therefore, that Norway has had a voice in formulating ‘law’ long before it reaches the European Union. It has also been said that Norway is a ‘rule-taker’ but then the European Union, rather than a ‘rule-maker’, is also a ‘rule-taker’.
Now to Canada (with or without +s):resulted in
There has been much clamour from the likes of Farage, Hannan, Redwood et others for a ‘Free Trade Agreement’ (FTA) with the European Union, unfortunately none of those advocates have yet specified what they mean by the term ‘free trade agreement’. Of late many are calling for a Canada style FTA (with or without one or more plusses) – well CETA appears to have hit more than one problem already (source). As an aside, the mantra of ‘taking back control of our own laws’ appears to have hit another problem as we see Canada still has to comply with European Regulations. For the benefit of those who prattle on about ‘Free Trade Agreements’ might I suggest they read Monograph 7 – available from the same source?
Where the question of EFTA/EEA membership is concerned, it takes the UK out of the political construct of the European Union yet continues trade, etc with the the European Union. What is the point of throwing that away, only to spend the next 6/7 years (or just an afternoon, if your name is Lilley) attempting to replicate that which we have discarded?
It behoves me to reiterate (yawn) the obvious:
- The referendum resulted in only a 52-48 vote to exit the European Union on a badly worded and faux campaign; as a result does not an exit strategy mean that somehow, both sides need to feel they have been listened to?
- A plan which resolves the chaos we find ourselves with Brexit, solves the Irish Border question, protects jobs and livelihoods, allows us to control immigration, thus allowing us to reunite what is a divided nation, is needed;
- That talk of an FTA is pointless in view of what an FTA would – and cannot – deliver, plus how long that would take;
The one plan which satisfies the forgoing is transition to EFTA/EEA – and not as an interim measure while we argue about a ‘final destination’? That those wanting a total break with the EU, yet at the same time wanting the same access with the EU that we now have, need to ‘wake up’ as they are ‘not of this planet’. Those pontificating about Brexit – yet who know nowt on the subject – should, perhaps, ‘zip it’?
In conclusion, perhaps the views of Paul Reynolds are ‘for the birds’?