No such thing as an EU “Grant”

A letter from our Chairman to the Sunday Telegraph

Sir,

Sometimes very clever people can be remarkably stupid.

Lord Darzi  (3 April) writes that he fears losing funding  from the EU for health-related research. A while ago Professor Stephen Hawking and friends did the same with regard to wider scientific research.

Do these learned gentlemen not realise that what they are receiving is a very small refund on the massive amount the British taxpayer pays to the EU political project?

In other words, we get a little of our own money back after it has been top-sliced for massively non-beneficial projects, EU overheads and corruption, by a Commission which has not been able to present a clean set of books for twenty years.

On 20th  March, Christopher Booker reported on the launch of The Market Solution (Flexcit) plan for leaving the EU whilst retaining access to the single market. The full version of the plan runs to over 420 pages and includes provision for continued co-operation with EU countries in mutually beneficial scientific and cultural projects. Other non-EU countries participate in these projects. There is no reason why an independent Britain should not do so.

Yours faithfully

Edward Spalton

More facts from Norway

Here is another update from Helle Hagenau of Norway’s Nei til EU campaign. Our Chairman clearly remembers Edward Heath telling a reporter in 1972 that Norway’s economy was in terrible trouble because of the referendum decision to stay out of the EU. He was speaking “from authority and the reporter accepted it. In those days there was no internet for instant rebuttal – only the newspapers and the BBC, which were all pro EU. Thankfully, now there are alternative media outlets – and this site seeks to be one – which can refute any nonsense told by our opponents.

No to EU in Norway is sending you another factsheet (attached).

This time it as about whether Norway needs the EEA agreement in order to sell our products to the EU and some of the quite outrageous statements from senior business and political leaders.

Please, feel free to distribute within you own network.

Here is a link to a web version. The full piece is set out below.

As a keen follower of the British debate I know you face some of the same scaremongering. Don’t give up! The Norwegian people won in 1994 and you can do it on 23rd June!!

 

Keep up the good work!

 

Yours sincerely

Helle Hagenau

 (Reminder: Helle will be one of the speakers at our annual rally on 14th May)

Do we need the EEA Agreement in order to sell our products to the EU?

The deafening message from the pro-EU side is that we must have the EEA Agreement to secure market access to the EU but we have heard this argument before.

Background

In the debate about alternatives to the EEA Agreement, claims are being put forward that Norway needs the agreement in order to sell its products to the EU. These claims are suspiciously similar to the warnings issued by the pro-EU side before the referendums on EU membership in 1972 and 1994. This scaremongering was proven wrong on both occasions.

Leading business figures, pro-EU politicians and the media, all with ready access to public platforms, continue to hammer away at the same message as in 1992: we must keep the EEA Agreement in order to have access to the EU market. The arguments put forward by the pro-EU side proved to be totally misleading in 1992 – and they are just as misleading today.

When Norway entered into the EEA Agreement in 1992, we had already had a free trade agreement with the EU for 19 years. This agreement meant that Norwegian industry, after a transitional period, did not have any tariffs on any of its exports to the EU.

The food industry was the one exception. There have been tariffs on agricultural products (because of Norwegian interests) and on processed fish products (because of EU interests). For all other industrial products and for all raw materials, there has been complete duty free access to the EU and there have not been any quota restrictions on trade with the EU.

Still, the deafening message is that we need the EEA Agreement in order to secure market access to the EU but we have heard all this before.

An echo of 1972

During the spring of 1972, the first debate on the trade agreement was raging. At that time, the EEC had for many years been levying duties on many of our most important export commodities, such as aluminium and other metals, paper and fish. The anti-EU side’s economists struggled to convince the public that the tariffs were much less of an obstacle to exports than the pro-EU side claimed.

At that time, help came from the outside. Unlike the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark and Norway, the EFTA states of Sweden, Finland and Austria had not applied for membership. Instead, during the winter of 1972, they had negotiated trade agreements with the EEC. These trade agreements removed what tariffs and other barriers to trade there were for trade in industrial goods between the EEC and these three EFTA states.

The People’s Movement against the EEC claimed that Norway could also negotiate such a trade agreement if the referendum on EEC membership in September 1972 were to result in a ‘no’ majority. This was stubbornly denied by the pro-EEC side, which used two types of arguments:

• Firstly, there was no reason to believe that the EEC would go along with a trade agreement with Norway.
• Secondly, there was certainly no reason to believe that we would get a deal that was as favourable for our export industries as the agreements Sweden, Finland and Austria had achieved.

In one export-dependent company after the other, the CEOs sent personal letters to all the employees stating that their jobs were in danger if there was a ‘no’ majority in the referendum.

Six days before the referendum, under the headline: ‘No petrochemical industry outside the European Community’, the CEO of Hydro, Johan B Holte, stated in a daily newspaper: ‘A trade agreement will be a hindrance’.1

 However, we now know the outcome. The majority of the electorate voted ‘no’ in the referendum on 25 September 1972. The Labour Party government resigned, and with astonishing speed, the new centrist government negotiated an agreement that was a carbon copy of the agreements that Sweden and Finland had signed.

Six months after the referendum, the atmosphere in Hydro had completely changed. In March 1973, a newspaper headline read: ‘Telemark embarks on the oil adventure with Hydro’s billion kroner plans at Rafnes.’2

The same Johan B Holte stated: ‘A new Hydro adventure is under way in Grenland. We are considering investing up to a billion in petrochemical industry at Rafnes.’ No journalist asked: ‘But didn’t you say six months ago that the trade agreement would make it impossible to develop a petrochemical industry in Norway?’

Scaremongering in 1994

Twenty-one years went by, and Hydro had a new CEO. On 26 September 1994 – two months before the second referendum – new CEO Erik Myklebust, stated: ‘Thousands of jobs will be lost in Norway and new investments worth billions will be made elsewhere. That is the difference for Norsk Hydro between a Norwegian no or yes to the EU. The EEA Agreement will be worth zero.’

During the autumn of 1994, there was really no limit to how bad things would be. The interest rate would rise, the krone would fall, exports would fail, capital would disappear and unemployment would increase.

• Unrealistic
Erik Tønseth, the CEO of Kvaerner, set the tone: ‘In practice, it is irrelevant whether Norway has an EEA Agreement or not. I simply think that the EEA has no basis in reality.’ 3

• Worthless
President Svein Aaser of the Norwegian CBI (NHO) followed up, ‘The EEA Agreement will be worthless if the rest of the Nordic countries join the EU without Norway. There is reason to believe that the EEA Agreement would then cease to function.’4

• Will crumble

Yngve Hågensen, leader of the Norwegian TUC, addressed a meeting of the Oslo Labour Party on 13

September 1995: ‘The TUC boss leaves no doubt, however, that he believes the EEA Agreement will crumble with only Norway and Iceland as EEA countries outside the EU.’5

• Not a single one

As usual, it was the prime minister who went furthest: ‘Around the country there are many who have investment plans ready if there is a yes vote. But I have not heard of a single company that has new investment plans ready if there were to be a ‘no’ in November.’6

• Something very wrong

Seven days before the referendum, then leader of the Labour Party Thorbjørn Jagland   warned: ‘Something very wrong can happen to Norway.’7

Things did  not really go that bad at all. In May 1995, a financial daily newspaper  documented over two pages ‘How the pro-EU side’s doomsday prophecies have been put to shame’ – ‘Everything has
gone better for the Norwegian economy since Norway said no to the EU on 28 November last year. Interest rates have fallen, growth has increased, the budget deficit has evaporated and investments are rocketing sky high.’8

No one on the anti-EU side had promised that industry would grow strongly if there was a no vote.

The ‘no’ message was consistently that the EEA Agreement would secure jobs in industry just as well as a membership in the EU would – and that the free trade agreement we had with the EU from 1974 to 1994 would have secured jobs in industry just as well as a membership of the EEA.

It was the pro-EU side, spearheaded by the Norwegian CBI (NHO) with the government tagging along behind, that predicted a dramatic downturn for the Norwegian economy. But it did not occur after 1972. Nor did it occur in 1994. Should we believe the scaremongering more this time around?

Notes

1) Stavanger Aftenblad 19.9.1972.
2) Varden 20.03.73.
3) Dagens Næringsliv 24.5.1994.
4) Dagens Næringsliv 25.5.1994.
5) Aftenposten 14.9.1995.
6) Gro Harlem Brundtland during the Parliamentary debate on EU membership 30.09.94.
7) Dagbladet 21.11.1994.
8) Dagens Næringsliv 22.5.1995

(This fact sheet was originally published in 2012, no. 2-2012. Translated 2016.)

EU Migration controls – UK Action Plan, including Brexit

The current unsustainable migration to the EU and the UK offers an opportunity to review policies and trial new ones, for win-win outcomes, using off-the-shelf solutions. The illegal immigration of Syrian refugees and north African and also Eastern and southern Europe migrations to the UK and northern Europe. People wish prosperity for all people everywhere, with no problem with prosperous tourists visiting from everywhere, people coming to study, maybe 1 year working visas with learning of new skills. However mass migration isn’t working for low income people, nor lowering crime and having people who pick and choose which laws to abide by are not ideal; it is better to reward people who do play by the immigration rules.

Solutions could include the following

  • Brexit, for EU immigration controls
  • OCV (Out of Country Voting) organised by the IOM (international Organisation of Migration) for Syrian refugees
  • Trade not Aid for immigration from the rest of the world
  • FTAs, Free Trade Agreements, also a consequence of Brexit
  1. Brexit, upgrading to a self-governing democracy

With the EU referendum coming up, Britain could lead by example, including for Commonwealth countries, by upgrading to a self-governing democracy. The current EU agreement, has led Britain to have a cumulative trade deficit of over £400bn, net contributions of over £130bn, not a win-win agreement. Also it is difficult to say to totalitarian régimes and badly run countries ‘ be like us’, since unfortunately the answer could be ‘ we are in many respects like you as a member of the EU’: virtual one party state, voting is meaningless – as people elected cannot make, amend or repeal many laws, media censorship of pro-democracy voices, media/banking and business cartels lobby for laws that help them and reduce competition, accounts would be unlikely to be signed off by independent auditors, as power is centralised – so is wealth, rich getting richer – the poor getting poorer, large tribes bullying smaller tribes, with the EAW people can be arrested on flimsy evidence.

Any wonder, as the centre of gravity of the world has been moved away from self-governing democracies to one-party state ideology, that other countries have followed suit?

The EU referendum offers an opportunity for the British people to shift the centre of gravity to self-governing democracies, with the UK upgrading to democracy. Options include:

  • EFTA/Single Market with Opt outs for immigration control and buying property efta.int
  • FTA (Free Trade Agreement) similar to what Canada has been negotiating for more than 6 years

Leading by example in the world, is a good help.

  1. OCV (Out of Country Voting) organised by the IOM (international Organisation of Migration) for Syrian refugees

The Syrian people stood up for having a say in how their country is being run, with a desire for democratic self-government – the Syrian regime disagreed and with violence, has tried to run the country, so leading to refugees. As the refugees have moved out of control of the government, to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and also inside Syria, an opportunity has arisen for voter registration and starting the democratic process.

An off-the-shelf solution using Out of Country Voting (OCV), organised by the International Organisation of Migration (IOM), is fully trained to organise voter registration and voting – as they have done for many refugee groups, including Afghanistan and Iraq, with high voter turnout.

IOM link: https://www.iom.int/jahia/webdav/shared/shared/mainsite/activities/mepmm/op_support/esu_ocv_080107.pdf

Voter registration and elections can be organised easily, in 10 weeks, in some cases. What they need is:

  • Which locations – e.g. Lebanon. Jordan, Turkey, inside Syria, already known
  • Approximate Number of people, already available
  • Who will be on the ballot paper, already different groups

It costs around US$4 per person to organise, so even with 5 million refugees, it is US$20 million, much less than currently being spent on refugees in camps. Elections could be held every 6 months, as more refugees arrive, giving more legitimacy. Referendums could be held on what kind of system of government they might start with. As the new government takes form and legitimacy, it helps people in old regime in looking for a new future –  and once, one thing changes, other things can change.

The UK, and other countries, could offer current refugees 3 to 6 month training opportunities in the areas of: running a democracy, military training and business skills. Also with selected few coming to European countries for a short while for training. So helping building up the future leaders and processes in the country for a safe and prosperous population.

  1. Trade not Aid, for immigration from the rest of the world

The unsustainable immigration from all parts of the world to the UK and northern Europe, is not win-win, and is not solving the root causes of the problems. Here is another opportunity for changes in policy.

With the EU referendum, the UK could vote for self-government and run it’s own immigration policy. This could include:

  • New Eastern Europeans getting a 1 year working visa, after which they return, or stay longer if a points systems shows their skills are in demand
  • Other new EU citizens can come and work, unless their country unemployment rate is over 7%, in which case they get a 1 year working visa, or stay longer if a points system shows their skills are in demand
  • Or the UK unemployment rate is over 7%, in which case any new EU citizen can only get a 1 year visa, unless a points system shows their skills are in demand, for staying longer.

The rest of the world includes low income countries, which is taking longer for them to develop good government and prosperity for most of the population. What to do? What new ideas could help?

Looking at decolonialisation and which countries have prospered more than others, could offer a clue. Looking at:

Singapore – which split away from Malaysia, has become a small country and prosperous with fast rates of growth in incomes

Hong Kong/China – Hong Kong was a colony for longer, with a Governor appointed by Britain, around 40% of the legislature voted by the population, around 60% appointed by Britain, stability, free trade, honest government, and prosperous with fast rates of growth in incomes. Skills learnt used to start businesses in China and accelerate growth and prosperity for millions and millions.

In Africa, since the Second World War, over US$500 billion of aid has been given, with little to show for it. Aid is not the solution, in fact some charities say it is a cause of the problems, as it helps corrupt people stay in power, and put off reforms. It could have helped if decolonialsation had taken longer, i.e. developing leaders professionally, e.g. starting with local elections, then regional, then national, starting with a higher voting age e.g. 50+, a year later elections for 40+, a year later elections 30+ etc, with regular ongoing training. We are where we are – what lessons can we learn going forward?

What are fast track options that are realistic?

  • Re-colonisation: no way, no interest
  • Smaller countries: allow countries with multiple languages, to have referendums to become smaller self-governing countries. Some people say that Africa is full of EU-type countries, that are held back by being lumped together in artificial countries
  • Free trade zones: help with setting up free ports, to help with foreign investment and growth, with trade. This option still relies on the local government, who are open to corruption, so may have partial success http://www.britannica.com/topic/free-trade-zone
  • New micro-colonies, similar to HK, 50 to 99 year leases: organising referendums in coastal areas for areas to become a temporary colony of the UK again, similar legislature set up as HK had, encourage Foreign Direct Investment, integrity, develop supply chains, fast growth, using expat UK labour and also expat labour from host country. Only with referendum approval. Likely opposition from populations, and also business cartels and corrupt politicians, so maybe not much interest, though highest chance of success for growth. This option could help create jobs, slow the brain-drain of skilled people leaving and create wealth.
  1. FTAs, Free Trade Agreements, also a consequence of Brexit
  • FTAs: Free Trade Agreements can be negotiated by the UK, once free from the EU, so helping accelerate growth. Also selected 1 year working visas for countries, for people to learn skills and government integrity – instead of aid money.

These are some ideas, which are off-the-shelf, proven and are about prosperity for the many, with democracy – and win-wins for people in different countries. A good starting point is the UK upgrading to democracy with the EU referendum, with a ‘No thank you to the EU’ and ‘Yes please to self-government’ – and shifting the centre of gravity in the world to democracy and prosperity.

 

Photo by Rex Pe

Profiling and targeting the undecided voter

The Easter holiday has provided many of us a chance to have a brief break, but it will be one of the last such opportunities as the referendum draws ever closer.

There is still everything to play for. Many voters are still undecided and anecdotal evidence suggests that they genuinely recognise their lack of knowledge about the EU and what the main issues are.

This generalisation, of course, covers a multitute of different individuals with all manner of different concerns, but they do share a couple of common features. Firstly, they are not enthusiasts for the  European project or they would be firmly on the “remain” side. Secondly, they do not feel passionately about the immigration or sovereignty issues or else they would be equally firmly on the “leave” side.

For some, a simple leaflet may be enough to answer their questions. Our 5 Mistaken assumptions leaflet has been in great demand with campaigners. Whether it’s because it appeals to those who have been given copies of the leaflet or whether it’s the campaigners who like it, we can’t be sure at this stage, but hopefully the former!

We also plan to offer a flier nearer the referendum date which is even simpler, encouraging voters merely to trust their instincts. Again, this is all some people will require.

For others, the issue could be summed up as a combination of a gut feeling that the EU isn’t a particularly good idea and a desire for reassurance that we can leave the EU smoothly without disruption to the economy.  For such people, the EFTA alternative does seem to be very appealing. According to a recent article in the Daily Express, a  poll conducted by Hugo van Randwyck for the Bruges Group  revealed that 58% of those contacted said that they preferred a free trade arrangement to EU membership.  As Robert Oulds, the Bruges Group’s Director, pointed out in the Article,  re-joining EFTA means the UK would keep full access to the EU single market while being allowed to pursue its own worldwide trade deals.

Perhaps on the campaign trail, we could emphasise how withdrawal will enable us to re-join an organisation we should never have left. Robert argued strongly in our annual rally last year that withdrawal must be shown as a positive development – joing something rather than leaving something  – as the latter can so easily be twisted by our opponents  as a “step into the unknown”.

With “remain” supporters asking us to define what “leave” looks like, we have the full-blown Flexcit as a comprehensive answer. Not everyone will want to read a 400-page document, but the Bruges Group polling suggests that once undecided voters are convinced there is a trade-only relationship on offer that is proven and tested, they are more likely to switch firmly to becoming “Leavers”. Their gut instinct that a trading relationship is all we need will have been vindicated and their concerns, will have been addressed.

Of course, this doesn’t mean we will have an easy ride, but the Bruges Group polling does offer us hope that with the right strategy, the outcome many of us have dreamed of for years may be within our grasp.

 

Britain, do not listen to the scaremongering!

A statement from the Board of No to EU in Norway

From the campaign in 1994 to keep Norway out of EU, No to EU is familiar with the tactics the British people currently are experiencing.

No to EU is watching the debate in the UK with great interest. Whether the UK leaves the EU or remains in the union is entirely for the British people to decide. The EU Commission in Brussels must also respect this fact.

We know from our own experience the EU system and the government apparatus will do everything possible to inject fear into people about the consequences of leaving the EU.

The disaster stories of lost jobs and a plummeting pound if the UK would dare leave the union, sound desperately familiar to No to EU. Prior to the referenda on EU membership in Norway in 1972 and 1994, the Norwegian people were told the industry would flee the country and 100,000 jobs would be lost if we voted no to the EU.

The reality has turned out to be quite the opposite. Since 1994, the Norwegian economy has developed and grown much more than the economies in EU member states. Norway has full sovereignty in the agricultural and fishery sectors, and the management of the Norwegian fisheries has been a great success.

British EU supporters, with the help of the Norwegian government, present Norway’s association to the EU through the EEA Agreement as a disaster. The British government has repeated the myth that Norway must accept three-quarters of EU laws and regulations. The reality is that Norway has implemented less than 10 percent of the laws and regulations, which the EU has adopted in the period 2000-2013. In addition, the EEA Agreement has a clause enabling Norway to refuse the implementation of new EU rules, a right EU member states do not have.

The Norwegian Government claims the EEA Agreement is a poor model for the UK. On the other hand, it is not willing to look at alternatives to the EEA Agreement for Norway, or use the flexibility permitted by the refusal clause. No to EU wants to end this undemocratic paradox, by replacing the EEA Agreement with a modern trade agreement with EU.

From the beginning of No to EU’s history, our aim has been to safeguard our democracy, defend our sovereignty and our natural resources. Our stance is based on international solidarity with people, both in the EU and in developing countries. Outside the EU, Norway has an independent voice on the international scene.

A UK outside the EU will be an interesting partner for Norway in achieving a modern trade agreement with the EU, preferably through EFTA, where we have cooperated previously.