Some Restriction on free movement of people is possible within the EEA agreement

Remaining in the single market as an interim option after leaving the EU does allow a country to place restrictions on immigration. The so-called “Norway Option” is being widely debated at the moment, but it has received a good deal of criticism from those whose prime reason for supporting withdrawal from the EU is their desire to see immigration reduced. Nevertheless, although this arrangement may not satisfy everyone seeking an “out” vote, not only it is the best way of ensuring we win a sufficient number of votes to leave the EU, but it does at least allow some restrictions on immigration, as Robert Oulds from the Bruges Group explains:-

It is possible to impose restrictions on immigration whilst remaining in the European Economic Area. Liechtenstein, an EEA member with less potential influence than Britain, continues to use clauses in the EEA agreement to restrict the movement of persons. Article 112(1) of the EEA Agreement reads: ‘If serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties of a sectorial or regional nature liable to persist are arising, a Contracting Party may unilaterally take appropriate measures under the conditions and procedures laid down in Article 113.’ The restrictions used by Liechtenstein are further reinforced by Protocol 15 (Article 5 – 7) of the EEA agreement. This allows Liechtenstein to keep specific restrictions on the free movement of people. These have been kept in place by what is known as the EEA Council.[1]

There will also be greater latitude to restrict non-British EU citizen’s access to benefits and to deny residency to those who are deemed to not have sufficient resources to support themselves. The current debate in Britain on immigration largely ignores the role of the European Court of Human Rights and the European Convention. Article 3 of the Convention (inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) and Article 8 (private and family life, his home and his correspondence) would also be relevant to the issue of immigration. These two article are often taken together; especially in cases of repatriation.

EEA/EFTA states are outside of Article 6 of the EU’s Treaty on European Union which states; 2. The Union shall accede to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Such accession shall not affect the Union’s competences as defined in the Treaties 3. Fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, shall constitute general principles of the Union’s law.

 There is already a great deal of flexibility in the EEA agreement. This goes beyond the ability to restrict immigration and opt-out of areas of EEA rules. Iceland even unilaterally imposed capital controls after its financial crash in 2008. This is permitted within the EEA safeguards Article 112.[2] There is also no enforcement mechanism to prevent this from happening even if such flexibility was not contained within the EEA. Whist this paper does not advocate such a policy it shows that radical steps that run contrary, even to the four freedoms of the EEA, can be implemented.

The EEA relevant rule relating to freedom of movement, Directive 2004/38, has qualifications, conditions and limitation. (10) Persons exercising their right of residence should not, however, become an unreasonable burden on the social assistance system of the host Member State during an initial period of residence. Therefore, the right of residence for Union citizens and their family members for periods in excess of three months should be subject to conditions. (12) For periods of residence of longer than three months, Member States should have the possibility to require Union citizens to register with the competent authorities in the place of residence, attested by a registration certificate issued to that effect. (22)

The Treaty allows restrictions to be placed on the right of free movement and residence on grounds of public policy, public security or public health. Article 7, 1 b) (b) have sufficient resources for themselves and their family members not to become a burden on the social assistance system of the host Member State during their period of residence and have comprehensive sickness insurance cover in the host Member State.[3] No right is absolute, and neither is freedom of movement within the EEA. What is more, EEA rules only apply to EFTA nations after they have assessed the relevant legislation and applied it according to their own interpretation of what freedom of movement means.

Footnotes:-
[1] EEA Council Decision No. 1/95, Official Journal of the European Communities, 20th April 1995, pages L 86/58 and 86/80
[2] Official Journal of the European Communities, 3rd January 1994, pages L/28, 176-8 and 562
[3] DIRECTIVE 2004/38/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 29 April 2004

Robert Oulds: Independent from the EU

Last October, Robert Oulds of the Bruges Group delivered a presentation entitled “Independent from the EU and into the wider world” at a CIB-hosted meeting at Chelwood House, Somerset. Robert explained how we could exit seamlessly from the EU by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and negotiating to re-join EFTA. No other exit option is viable for, if we left the European Economic Area (which we would not under this secenario), the barriers to trade with the EU would take years to address, thus putting many UK businesses at risk.

Although much has happened since Robert gave this presentation, the arguments he set out last year still form the basis of the EU exit strategy most likely to command sufficient popular support to secure the all-important “out” vote in the forthcoming referendum and the only one which can answer all the concerns of the business community. The video can be accessed here.

 

The Norway Option DVD

The Norway Option DVD

norway option dvd

Living outside the European Union – Find out how Norway has prospered outside the European Union but part of the “European Economic Area” (EEA). Publicist Peter Troy and director Tony Baker, an experienced political documentary maker together with anti-EU campaigner Richard North visit Norway and meet politicians, journalists and business people to see what we in the UK from the Norwegians. The 35 minute DVD film production is recommended viewing for people interested in the vexed debate on In or Out of the EU.

Click here to view the trailer of the film which is described as “excellent” by Lord Tebbit.

Sadly, Mr Troy died inApril 2015 and it is currently not possible to purchase copies of this DVD directly as his website has been taken down. If you would like to order a copy, please contact [email protected] and we will make a note of your request and when copies once again become available, ensure one is dispatched to you.

 

 

 

Lessons from Austerlitz

Napoleon Bonaparte, watching the Austro/Russian army deploying at Austerlitz, is recorded as saying:
“Let us wait twenty minutes; when the enemy is making a false movement we must take good care not to interrupt him.”

The EU referendum campaign has begun and cool strategy is required.

Those who wish to see a ‘NO’ outcome are concerned about the barrage of pro-EU, or pro-Single Market to be precise, statements by political leaders and big banks and business, as well as EU Commissioners, and so on.

And these people are not bothering with Cameron. They are in favour of staying in the EU without any of Cameron’s reforms. Judging by the ICM poll, the ‘stay in’ side is 10-18 points ahead, even before Cameron returns with his ‘reforms’ or those polled have any idea what is likely to be renegotiated.

But did any reasonable person think that this would not happen?

I welcome this barrage on various grounds.

First, a lot of rhetorical ammunition has been expended for nothing.

Second, the EU side is exposed as obviously bereft of any new ideas since 1975. There are no new arguments.

Third, the idea that this is a stitch up, a fudged referendum, a pretence, a fraud, is gaining ground. As Iain Martin says, in CapX:
“The government’s renegotiation with the EU is bordering on the comical.”
and
“No-one likes to be taken as a fool.”

Fourth, there are already signs of infighting between those few who genuinely believe it is possible to have a ‘reformed’ Europe and those who are just using this as a cynical phrase.

Fifth, all those who the electorate most distrusts are climbing into the same lifeboat without bothering about any navigation:-

  • All the political parties and their leaders
  • The directors of big banks, even those presiding over the banking scandals
  • Big Business directors
  • EU Commissioners and Eurocrats generally.

But, of course we need to counter-attack properly with:

  • A proper aim
  • A proper plan
  • All fighting in one direction
  • No room for complacency

It is also worth considering the melting away of the great polled predicted pro-EU vote during the Dutch and French referendums on the European Constitution.

The recent YouGov poll shows the ‘OUT’ side ahead in the key voting groups: over 40s and over 60s.

Most commentators, such as Iain Martin and James Forsyth, tell us that the referendum is about ‘supporting the status quo’. Nothing could be further from the truth. A ‘yes’ vote is a vote for ‘more integration’, as laid out in Juncker’s presidential statement in 2014.

The real choice was put by Jacques Delors, former head of the EU Commission and the main driver of the EU in his day, and a man highly respected in Brussels, in December 2012, to the Handelsblatt newspaper:

“If the British cannot support the trend to more integration in Europe, we can nevertheless remain friends, but on a different basis. I could imagine a form such as a European economic area or a free trade agreement.”

This correctly stated the alternatives for the UK, “Supporting the trend to more integration in Europe” or ‘friends’ on the basis of membership of the EEA/EFTA.

Photo by – = Duke One = –

Photo by Internet Archive Book Images

Peter Troy RIP

We regret to announce the death of Peter Troy, a member of CIB, a long serving campaigner for British independence from the EU and a talented publicist. Peter suffered a severe heart attack from which there appeared to be some hope of recovery. In spite of the  very best ministrations of the hospital, the hope proved vain. He died surrounded by his family and loved ones, to whom we extend our sympathy. Members who attended our AGM on 11 April will recall his spirited motion in favour of urgent preparations to fight the then expected referendum on EU membership. The motion was passed unanimously.

Recently he was perhaps best known for his film “The Norway Option”. He explained his thinking behind it in the article which follows. Lord Tebbit praised it highly because it gave a clear pointer to an amicable and orderly  way out of the EU and “it doesn’t shout”.

“I was so annoyed at David Cameron’s misrepresentation of The Norway Option that I made a film to set the record straight” says Publicist and anti EU campaigner Peter Troy.

“I think it is worth understanding what leaving the European Union would involve”, said David Cameron back in January 2013. “You can be like Norway”, he said, “and you can have full access to the single market but you have absolutely no say over the rules of that market”.

Mr Cameron was speaking at a lunch organised by the Parliamentary Press Gallery in Westminster saying he was in favour of staying in the EU because of its single market. But, also he said, if the UK pulled out of the EU but wanted to keep the advantages of the single market it would be reduced to the standing of Norway, which has to abide by faxed orders from Brussels’ bureaucrats.

“In Norway”, the Prime Minister said “they sometimes call it ‘Government by fax’ because you are simply taking the instructions about every rule in the single market from Brussels without any say on what those rules are”.

On watching the presentation live on early morning TV I despaired, it was utter tosh – I was amazed that this  tired and inaccurate old canard which has been running for years, first raised by Europhile Norwegian politicians who were trying to get their sceptical people to agree to joining the EU was being repeated by our Prime Minister.  It didn’t work with the canny Norwegian’s, but that was not stopping Mr Cameron trying it on in the UK and of course the media – particularly the BBC – were reporting Mr Cameron’s words with zero criticism or understanding of the bigger implications.

Recalling that political scientist Dr Richard North who co-authored the definitive history of the EU with journalist Christopher Booker had written several times about ‘The Norway Option’ back in 2008 on his high profile EU Referendum blog site, I called him to discuss David Cameron’s curious statement. The typically long and detailed conversation with the anti EU campaigner concluded in my being told that the good Doctor was embarking on a fresh paper on behalf of The Bruges Group on the very subject of The Norway Option.

The paper was published early in 2013. The author, as was to be expected, boldly set out  the case for a desirable exit settlement should the UK decide to leave the EU. One of those options is for the UK government to apply to join the European Free Trade Area (EFTA). This is known as the “Norway Option” because Norway is the largest nation within the EFTA/EEA group which also includes Iceland and Liechtenstein.

As Dr North expands in the Bruges Group publication, staying within the EEA is an attractive proposition as it protects the UK’s position in the Single Market and thus renders an exit economically neutral. Such an option accords with often repeated Government objectives of maintaining access to the single market.

Crucially, the essence of this is that most of the single market rules are negotiated at global and regional level; EEA/EFTA experts and representatives participate in over 500 committees and expert groups involved in what is known as “decision shaping” at this level.

The 48 page Bruges Group publication is a fine work though the subject I decided required a much wider audience than those who would read the booklet. What was needed I soon concluded was a film in documentary style. This was to be a film that clearly the BBC would not make nor was it likely that other broadcasters would either – it was not a question of politically correct balance but of hard solid facts of what exactly is The Norway Option. Within a month of reading Richard North’s draft paper I had assembled a professional film making team comprising of BBC freelance journalist Tony Baker and experienced award winning film cameraman and editor Ken Slater – both of whom operate from the North-East of England.

After first assessing in detail, on film, whether the UK outside the EU would be a disaster I, together with Richard North and film crew with support staff, travelled to Oslo to shoot the film of the book written by Richard North – The Norway Option. On location in Oslo we discovered a prosperous happy country at ease with itself and an economy that is quite capable of thriving at arms-length from the EU, yet very much a part of the Single European Market.

In a documentary style ‘voyage of discovery’ presentation we met and interviewed many people including an independent farmer, an academic, as well as political campaigner Helle Hagenau from the’ No to the EU’campaign who told us how much better off Norway is outside the EU. A sentiment that is echoed by Anne Tvinnereim, who at the time of filming was State Secretary for the Ministry of Local Government and Development. Anne ,as well as a recognised up and coming star in Norway’s Centre Party ,is a recognised expert on EU affairs.The party was instrumental in winning the ‘no’ campaign in the 1994 referendum.

Two decades on, Anne disputes David Cameron’s claim that Norway is without influence in the EU, even though her country is not able to vote on EEA – Single Market legislation – to which her country is bound. As Anne explains in an interview with Richard and myself in the ministry’s Oslo offices: “Most of the politics is done long before new regulation gets to the voting stage. Anne further explains that the UK would be very welcome in EFTA, an organisation Norway had joined in order to be a part of the Single Market. Whilst this arrangement had brought many economic advantages Anne and her colleagues agreed there were concerns about the democratic deficit in the relationship with the EU.

Speaking to a senior Norwegian Official the production team also learnt that Norway is fully engaged at the global level where an increasing number of trade rules are agreed either under the aegis of the WTO or the United Nations. We heard that when it comes to rule-making for International trade the ‘top tables’ are progressively moving out of Brussels. Where her economic interests are concerned, Norway – unlike the UK – has her own seat at those tables.

As well as examining in detail how self-government has allowed Norway to prosper we also travelled to the site of the Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon where the Treaty of Lisbon was signed by the heads of the EU member states. Against this splendid Portuguese backdrop Richard and I discussed how Article 50 of the Treaty defines the ‘exit route’ for member states; an often misunderstood opportunity.

The Norway Option DVD documentary story line is intermixed with the theme of a news presenter Jan Leeming reading the future news from a radio studio. The scene is set from the breaking news of the announcement of an in/out referendum to the result of the out vote and the Prime Minister’s announcement to Parliament of the commencement of withdrawal from the EU by means of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.  

The DVD production distributed marketed in conjunction with The Bruges Group was launched at a meeting of the group at the Royal Overseas League last November. As Robert Oulds, Bruges Group Director said:” We admire Norway’s democratic model and their economic success. If being like Norway would be a disaster as some predict then we in the UK cannot have to much of it”.

The film The Norway Option which is introduced by Lord Tebbit is available in DVD format   CIB has copies of the DVD available for showing to meetings of independence campaigners.

Now we know the question

In spite of much speculation in the press, it is highly unlikely that the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU will be held before 2017. However, we can now be more confident about the wording of the referendum question. The European Referendum Bill was published last week and had its first reading in the House of Commons and consequently, we now know that the proposed question is “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?”

This means that supporters of withdrawal will become the “No” campaign. While some reports suggested this question was a replacement for “Should the United Kingdom be a member of the European Union?” on the grounds that some people didn’t even know that we were a member, it does make our task somewhat harder as there is an innate desire among the uninformed to want to please and to be positive – in other words, to say “Yes”. No doubt Mr Cameron is aware of this.

The “Out” campaign, as Robert Oulds said recently at CIB’s annual rally, must therefore be positive and talk not so much about leaving something but rather about joining something better – the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which we should never have left in the first place.

Incidentally, to answer any critics who fear that EFTA may not want us back, Mr Oulds has pointed out that in a reply by the Prime Minister of Iceland, S. D. Gunlaugssson, to a question about Cameron’s promise of an EU referendum in an interview with the “Liechtensteiner Vaterland” on 9th May 2015, he said “I would certainly welcome Great Britain into EFTA. An entry into EFTA could be a good solution for Great Britain and would be equally good for EFTA. We would at all events be open to taking the British back into EFTA.”