Norway's foreign minister, Espen Eide, has urged UK to stay in EU
Scottish News: Stay in EU, Norwegian minister urges UK
Norway's foreign minister Espen Eide has reportedly urged the UK not to leave the European Union (EU) and to consider the advantages of staying inside the bloc.
The development comes as Prime Minister David Cameron, who said British withdrawal from the EU is "imaginable", is expected to set out plans next month for a referendum on British membership of the EU.
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With leading Eurosceptic Conservatives demanding an EU referendum by early 2014, the Conservatives are increasingly concerned about losing the next election. A large swathe of the traditional Tory vote is haemorrhaging to the United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip) which, opinion polls suggest, are supported by 14 percent of the UK electorate. At the same time, Labour has moved ahead of the Tories with a double digit lead.
Norway is not an EU member but through the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) it has access to the single market. An increasing number of Scottish nationalists point to EFTA as a model for a post-independence Scotland instead of EU membership.
Having used its oil reserves to build the largest global pension fund, worth over £400bn, Norwegian voters have twice rejected the chance to join the EU, despite having "limited scope for influence" argues Eide, in referendums in 1972 and 1994.
Threat to Scotland
One of the most controversial issues surrounding Scotland's independence referendum has been Scotland's EU membership post-independence.
This call from Norway's foreign minister, Espen Eide puts that debate into a far more realistic context.
David Cameron has stressed that while he personally supports membership of a reformed EU, he said Britain was "in charge of our own destiny".
However, as part of Britain, Scots do not have control over their own destiny. If England's far larger and much more Eurosceptic English electorate votes to leave the EU, and the polls say that is increasingly likely, then Scots would be powerless to prevent themselves being isolated from Europe and thirled by British separatists to a declining UK economy beset by debt and austerity.
Such an outcome would mean Scots would be unable to work in Europe and Scottish businesses would experience increased barriers to trade in our major exporting market.
The UK cabinet’s leading pro-European Tory, Ken Clarke, said it would be an economic “disaster” for Britain to leave the EU.
The anti-independence campaign Better Together will be under pressure to reassure Scottish voters that such a disaster will not happen if Scots vote no in the independence referendum in 2014.
Former Blair advisor sees key advantages for small EU states
A former Tony Blair advisor and EU official has identified the key benefits that small states in Europe enjoy and has argued that the push for an independent Scotland “should not be a surprise.”
It has been reported in the Scottish Sunday Express that Robert Cooper has argued that the push for independence in Scotland “should not be a surprise since, for most purposes, small states are better than big states: more intimate, more cohesive, closer to the citizen.”
Robert Cooper, who is the Director General of External and Politico-Military Affairs for the Council of the European Union, also states that the EU has enabled “small states to flourish and to have a voice in making the rules to run it.”
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Here’s an immediate example: Under existing EU legislation, all national waters right up to the beaches will come under exclusive EU fisheries “competence” from the end of 2012 ̶ that’s JUST FIVE DAYS AWAY, folks ̶ and will be regulated under EU law and not Scots law. Since the Lisbon Treaty also transfers powers over energy to Brussels, fishing is obviously only the thin end of a wedge that will eventually see ALL marine resources coming under Brussels control. So much for Scotland’s oil – and other marine resources – if independent Scotland becomes a member of the EU.
Is this really independence? The SNP apparently thinks so.
The European Economic Area (EEA) unites the 27 EU Member States and the three EEA EFTA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) into an Internal Market governed by the same basic rules. These rules aim to enable goods, services, capital, and persons to move freely about the EEA in an open and competitive environment, a concept referred to as the four freedoms.
Much of the current misinformation concerns the relationship between the EU members and the EFTA members. For example, misinformation-spreaders claim that EFTA does not have the same rights as EU members. Articles 99 and 100 of the EEA’s founding Agreement require that EFTA members of the EEA have exactly the same rights as EU members. All the EFTA members are represented individually on the EEA’s governing bodies, including the EEA Court of Justice, but EU members are represented collectively by the EU Commission. The same applies to the all-important “top table” of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), where EFTA members have their individual voices, whereas EU members have only one voice – that of the EU Commission. Thus, Scotland would be independent in EFTA but not in the EU.
Some misinformation-spreaders claim EFTA membership would be much more costly than EU membership. Scotland currently pays, as its share of the UK’s EU costs, approximately £318 for every man, woman and bairn in Scotland; precise figures and additional statistics are in preparation by the SDA. The EFTA/EEA contribution would be less than a quarter of the EU amount. As an EFTA/EEA member Scotland would be liable for a contribution of about £200 million to the EEA solidarity fund for weaker EEA member states. It is NOT a contribution to the general EU funds.
The SNP and other proponents of EU membership are careful not to mention the damage which the EU causes to Scotland. The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) alone is costing Scotland nearly £2,000 million in lost wealth creation EVERY YEAR. The EU has destroyed tens of thousands of jobs through the CFP and the incompetence of the EU’s management of the CFP continues to this day.
A move to the EFTA side of the EEA, from Scotland’s present part-membership of the EU side, would cause no disruption whatever to Scotland’s economic links with Europe, which would continue unchanged. No action would be required to leave the EU side of the EEA – since Scotland as such has never been a member of the EU it only needs to refrain from applying to join.
For more information on Scotland in Europe – NOT the European Union, see http://scottishdemocraticalliance.org/images/PDF/Scotland%20in%20Europe.pdf/.
For more information on the EEA and EFTA, see
The Scottish Democratic Alliance has gone into this with EFTA directly, and is in contact with EFTA member states individually. We have ascertained, informally, that EFTA would welcome independent Scotland, which is similar in size to existing members, is rich enough to be a net contributor, and as a Scandinavian member would dovetail admirably with its nearest EFTA neighbours.
The United Kingdom, on the other hand, would not be welcome in EFTA, because its considerable size would upset the balance, and its declining economy, coupled with other problems, would drag the entire group down.
No official statement to that effect has been issued, nor is it likely to be, and the statement by the Norwegian Foreign Minister is the nearest that can be expected. The UK should continue to be in the EU, but independence would leave Scotland free to do what it likes.
Since the EFTA and EU states share membership of the European Economic Area (EEA), in effect the Common Market continuing, Scotland in EFTA and the rest-UK in the EU would still be in the same trading bloc. There would be no customs posts at the border.
Scotland would be rid of the abominable EU fisheries and agriculture policies, and would regain control of its own territorial waters. Furthermore, Scotland would have the additional benefit of EFTA’s free trade agreements with almost the entire world, including the half of Europe that is not in the EU.
Anyone who advocates a different strategic policy for Scotland involving EU membership must be out of his or her mind.