Cam’s great sham will need some pretty wrapping paper

With December’s European Council meeting now behind us, the political world is now winding down for the Christmas break. What are we to make of the situation as 2015 draws to a close?

Firstly, things have moved on dramatically in the last year following the victory of the Conservative Party in May’s General Election. David Cameron’s commitment to hold an in/out (or rather, remain/leave) referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU has concentrated minds in the withdrawalist movement. The goal for which some of us have been striving for 40 years or longer could finally be within our grasp in the next two years.

Furthermore, the battle lines have already been drawn. We know what David Cameron is going to try to sell to the electorate. Forget all the discussions about opt-outs from closer political union and curbs on migrant benefits. There has not been and will not be any real renegotiations of any substance. Cameron has basically capitulated to the EU. “We need a British model of membership that works for Britain and for any other non-euro countries”, he said. What this really means, in the words of the former Environment Minister Owen Patterson is that “he is bumping around the back, towed along in the dinghy and this is all froth and bubble “

Associate membership – re-packaged as “The British Model” – will nonetheless be marketed by Mr Cameron as a major triumph – the result of “battling for Britain” in hard negotiation. Having downplayed expectations, Cameron will in reality be attempting to sell us a very shoddy deal – and not one for which he can even claim any credit. The original plans to turn discussion of a “two-speed Europe” into something concrete go back to a proposals by Andrew Duff, the arch federalist former Lib Dem MEP in 2006. It then moved up to consideration by the Bertelsmann-Spinelli group and the Five Presidents’ group. Carefully orchestrated press releases indicate that Mr Cameron has been going down this route for some months, with full support from leading figures in the Brussels establishment.

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EU Commission, stated to a meeting in Brussels on 18th November that the EU “is a family. Over time, one needs to give them (we the children!) the possibility to find their place on an orbit that better suits their sense of temperature. But Brexit will not happen”. Give Mr Juncker’s words, we can take it that the plan has been agreed. There is going to be a great deal of theatre. The script and choreography are mostly written already.

It will be Cam’s great sham. At the heart of this new arrangement, nothing of substance will have changed:-

  1. We will still be subject to the European Court of Justice
  2. Our ministers will still be overruled by qualified majority voting at the Council of Ministers
  3. Our Parliament will have to implement legislation with no power of unilateral veto.
  4. The European Commission will continue to churn out new laws and if the European Parliament and Council approve them, we will have to put them on the statute books.
  5. We will have an opt-out from the Euro, but this basically means relegation to the EU’s second division – indeed, Mr Duff has actually used the word “relegation” to describe his associate membership proposal.
  6. We will be still liable for any future eurozone bail-outs, even though outside the Single Currency
  7. We will still be tied in to Europol
  8. We will not be on the EU’s “top table” in spite of that being one of Mr Cameron’s stated objectives.

That Cameron is working hand-in-glove with the EU élite is more than apparent from his refusal to consider the far better alternative of the Norway Model – i.e., retaining our access to the Single Market from outside the EU by re-joining EFTA and thus availing ourselves of the European Economic Area agreement.

  1. Unlike the UK, which is represented by someone from the European Commission, Norway represents itself at the real “top tables” like the WTO and the United Nations Economic Committee for Europe (UNECE).
  2. It can refuse to put EU legislation onto its statute books – for instance, it refused to implement the Third Postal Directive, even though it was labelled “EEA Relevant”.
  3. If the Euro goes belly up, Norway will not be liable for its debts.
  4. EEA countries like Norway are widely consulted when EEA-relevant legislation is being framed and the lack of a final vote is not seen by most Norwegians as a problem.
  5. Liechtenstein, whose relationship to the EU is likewise via EEA/EFTA, used a clause in the EEA agreement to apply an “emergency brake” on immigration from the EU 20 years ago and the “emergency” is still in force!
  6.  Norway does not participate in Europol and the Eurpean military police (EUGENDFOR) will not have any rights to operate in the country.

In short, the “Norway Option”, while not an ideal long-term arrangement, would get us through the escape hatch and is far nearer to achieving Cameron’s stated objectives than his crummy “British Model.” One of his former constituents, Dave Phipps, who was the author of the now-defunct Witterings from Witney blog when he lived in the area, met with him and explained the obvious benefits of the Norway Model, but it has not made any difference. Unless Mr Cameron is a bear of exceedingly little brain or suffering from severe amnesia, one can only surmise that his mind is not open to any possibility of leaving the EU, in spite of his utterances that nothing is off the table. While Steve Baker, the MP for High Wycombe, claims that, “the only logical and consistent position the Prime Minister can take is to lead our country out of the European Union”, that just isn’t going to happen.

Mr Cameron may already have his “British Model” neatly under wraps, but there isn’t very much actually to wrap it in. The mainstream press is preoccupied with benefit restrictions on EU migrants and the opposition Cameron faced from Poland when he raised the subject of a four-year residency period, but this is a sideshow. The opt-out from “ever-closer union” is meaningless and recognition of the UK’s right to keep the pound is hardly a great concession. An agreement to cut red tape – in other words, addressing the lack of competitiveness within the EU – is hardly a big deal. True, Cameron complained in February 2014 that the Commission “is so obsessed with red tape that it believes that removing regulations which damage businesses is an act of self-harm”, but in reality, as new regulations are handed down from global standards-setting agencies, the EU does actually ditch obsolete regulations and will continue to do so.

Furthermore, the treaty changes which would be required to formalise a two-tier EU won’t be ready for signing until after the UK referendum, so all he can do is offer us a promise. Thinking back to his “cast iron” guarantee of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, this doesn’t really inspire any confidence.

Admittedly, opinion polling doesn’t inspire much confidence either, but last week’s YouGov poll, suggesting that perception of the success of Cameron’s supposed renegotiations hold the key to securing a “leave” vote is consistent with a number of other studies. If he can find some suitably pretty wrapping paper, selling the British Model as the middle way, the safe option that resolves our long-standing frustrations with Brussels, he may win. As it’s his only hope of winning, we can be assured that the spin machine will be revved up to full speed. Our task is not to be distracted by side issues like benefits for migrants. If we can show the public – and in particular, the undecided – that underneath the wrapping paper, Cam’s great sham is a non-solution meaning more Europe and even less say in how it is run, we can pull off a great victory.

On that note, a very Happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year from all of us in the Campaign for an independent Britain. Let us hope that 2016 will be the year when the tide finally turns irrevocably in our direction

Ten answers to ten questions

The “Remain” camp will be seeking to probe all the “leave” campaigns and to pick holes in thier strategies. However, there is only a finite number of questions they can ask. British Influence has probably covered most of them in a recent 10-point challenge to us all. Here, below are their questions  with replies from Dr Richard North, which show that a well-thought-out leave strategy is on the one hand essential, but on the other, fully able to address our enemies’ challenges.

1. What would the Eurosceptic ideal arrangement between the UK and the EU look like and how realistic is it possible to achieve?

There is no ideal arrangement. We have never pretended that there was one, and it is facile even to suggest that there should be one. Essentially, after nine treaties and more than 40 years of political and economic integration, there can be no optimum or “ideal” mechanism for leaving the EU.

Nor is it possible or even advisable to specify precisely which arrangement might be best or most realistic for the circumstances, when the outcome depends on negotiations between parties. We thus suggest a series of options in our Flexcit plan, any one of which, if adopted, will permit a trouble-free exit as part of an overall process which involves six measured steps to freedom.

The real issue then is whether it is possible to develop a good working relationship with the EU once we have left it. The answer to that is an unequivocal yes, with every reason to believe that this would be beneficial to the UK and EU member states.

2. Every successful arrangement with the EU to allow countries outside of it access to the Single Market has included freedom of movement – how would we arrange access to the Single Market without agreeing to freedom of movement?

Under the options available to us, we would compromise on freedom of movement for the purposes of retaining access to the Single Market, pending a longer-term resolution. We recognise that Brexit is a process rather than an event, and the immediate goal of leaving the EU is best served by the continued adoption of freedom of movement, to allow for a staged exit.

In the interim, we would take such measure as are permitted under current agreements to restrict migrant flows, by administrative and other means. This would include dealing with non-EU measures which permit or facilitate third-country immigration.

3. Article 50 stipulates a two-year timeline for exiting the EU. However, the Swiss deal with the EU took almost ten years to agree. How would we avoid any post-Brexit arrangement taking as long as the Swiss deal did?

We do not endorse the “Swiss option”. The reason we propose the EFTA/EEA (“Norway”) option is that it is a well-established off-the-shelf option and the best for a rapid exit, within the two-year Article 50 period.

Should the Norway option not be accessible, there are other off-the-shelf options available, allowing considerable negotiating flexibility. There are no good reasons, therefore, why negotiations should not be completed within the two-year period.

4. Won’t the commercial interests of the remaining EU countries take precedence for them over giving Britain “a good deal” post-Brexit?

Article 50 prescribes that Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with the departing State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. International law and the rules of the Union require that the negotiation shall be carried out in good faith.

Within the framework of the negotiation, we are conscious that the legitimate concerns and needs of all parties must be respected. We also understand that the Union cannot, for its own purposes, offer the UK a better deal that it could secure through membership of the EU. Our plan, therefore, sets realistic objectives and ones which do not prejudice the survival of the EU or the commercial interests of its members.

5. Won’t the two-year (at minimum) period post-Brexit period see Parliament completely tied up in renegotiation with the EU to the detriment of all other legislation?

The Article 50 negotiation is a matter between the European Council, with the European Commission, and the Member State government. Parliament is not directly involved in the negotiation.

We would expect Parliament to approve the Government’s negotiating mandate, and to be informed as to its progress. There would also be some merit in the Houses establishing a joint, cross-party select committee to review and advise on the negotiations, and to report occasionally to both Houses. Any final agreement would also require the approval of both Houses, and possibly a referendum, which would also have to be authorised by Parliament.

The burden thus imposed, in total, would not be substantial and would be well within the capability of Parliament to accommodate without the allocation of any further resources.

Further, as a point of information, the UK would not formally leave the EU until the negotiation had been concluded, or the two-year period expired.

6. Without the weight of the Single Market behind us, how will Britain avoid being in a poor bargaining position with countries like China, should they wish to come to the bargaining table in the first place?

As regards existing trade deals, the UK will be in no worse position outside the EU than it will be in. It can rely on the legal assumption of continuity to ensure that it will continue to trade with third countries on the same basis as it did before it left.

As to trade generally, the “big bang” trade deals such as TTIP belong with the dinosaurs. They are expensive and time-consuming to negotiate and rarely deliver the benefits they claim.

The greatest growth in international trade is being achieved through innovative, flexible agreements such as the Partial Scope Agreements – and their equivalents which deal with technical barriers to trade – plus “unbundled” sector- and product-specific agreements, cast on a regional or global basis, without geographical anchorage.

The UK, freed from the encumbrance of the EU and the need to work within the constraints of 28-member “common positions” will be better able to partake in these innovative mechanisms, and improve its trading position far beyond that afforded by old-fashioned trade deals.

It would also be in a better position to broker deals between non-state actors, where growth potential is high, without being held back by the lethargic bureaucratic procedures of the EU.

7. How could voters be persuaded that the more radical alternatives to EU membership wouldn’t bring radical economic and political change with it that would disadvantage them?

Political realities suggest that the more radical alternatives would not arise. In our plan there are various fallback positions, some of which are sub-optimal for the time being, but hardly radical.

In any event, post-exit we will see the restoration of democratic controls over the legislative and treaty approval process. We expect Parliament to resume its historical function of reflecting the will of the people, and thus ensuring that undesirable and unasked-for changes are avoided – unlike at present, where the will of the people can be overturned by the undemocratic institutions of the European Union.

We do, however, recognise that there are weaknesses to our democratic system – in addition to those brought about by our membership of the EU – and thus propose as part of our exit plan reforms which will strengthen democratic control, and thereby better ensure that the wishes of the people are respected.

8. Are those who wish Britain to leave the EU proposing open borders – or even significantly relaxed visa restrictions – with all Commonwealth countries, including some developing countries with massive populations, and in some cases large scale internal political problems, such as India, Pakistan and Nigeria?

In our plan, we do not propose open borders – or even significantly relax visa restrictions – with any Commonwealth or any other third country. We would, however, seek to include mutually beneficial visa arrangements in any new trade deals, over which we would retain total control.

9. During the two-year negotiation period that starts with the triggering of Article 50 post-referendum, wouldn’t there be a large incentive for an unprecedented amount of EU citizens to emigrate to the UK while it was still legally possible?

Since our plan retains freedom of movement provisions, there would be no need for any citizen of any other EU Member State to make any special arrangements in seeking residential status in the UK as their rights and responsibilities will be largely unaffected by the UK leaving the EU. We expect EEA rights to be maintained.

However, it would be perfectly legitimate within the context of the Article 50 procedure, to negotiate a side deal on an intergovernmental basis, temporarily removing or modifying reciprocal establishment and citizenship rights, to pre-empt and thereby prevent migration surges.

10. Are proponents of Brexit willing to remove a crucial aspect of the Northern Ireland peace process and risk Scotland leaving the UK in order to leave the EU?

We think British Influence does a great disservice to all the players involved in the Northern Ireland peace process by pegging its success on the EU. Ultimately, devolution is helping to create a distinct governing body separate to London which will do more for peace.

As to Scotland, ironically, we would ask ten questions not entirely dissimilar to those pitched by British Influence. Those who say Scotland would break the Union should also read our Brexit plan in that they will find that breaking away from the UK is as politically and technically tricky as the UK leaving the EU.

The EU will likely reform on the basis of a two speed Europe to address the necessity for more economic governance over the eurozone. That is an inevitable consequence of currency union. Scotland using the pound means full separation is not a political reality. Thus, in most respects Scotland is as independent as it is ever going to be (give or take).

Brexit – a catalyst for political reform

Why do the Campaign for Independent Britain, Better Off Out, the Bruges Group, UKIP, the Democracy Movement and many other organisations and individuals support leaving the EU? Anyone who asked around would probably come back with a variety of answers – to escape from a failing political project, to curb immigration, to repatriate our sovereignty, to regain control of trade, fisheries and so on.

One benefit which hasn’t been discussed as much is the potential for real reform of the UK’s political system. Such reform is essential and a “leave” vote could provide just the catalyst we need.

Little has changed since a 2012 survey conducted by the Which? magazine revealed that only 7% of the 2,000 people surveyed trusted politicians or journalists. These two categories fared even worse than bankers and estate agents who jointly received the next lowest trust rating – a mere 11%. This is not to deny the existence of some honourable MPs – usually located on the back benches – and even a handful of decent journalists, but the low rating scored by politicians is not just a reflection of a cynical electorate but rather an indication of the deep flaws in our political system and its moral standards.

The recent resignation of the former Conservative Party co-chairman Grant Shapps following the tragic death of a young activist, Elliott Johnson, has shone the spotlight on a culture of bullying, affairs, blackmail, heavy drinking and dishonesty within the party, only a year or so after a scandal involving Lord Rennard engulfed the Liberal Democrats. We are also now hearing of bullying in the Labour party by its more extremist elecments. This poses the question:- are such people fit to be entrusted with the running of our country?

The answer is a resounding NO, but what choice do we have? What are the alternatives?

We have to vote for someone to be our MP, but what does it say about the state of politics when the campaigning in last May’s general election was so negative, with many voters voting not for a party (or candidate) they felt positively towards, but out of fear that the alternative would be far worse? What about the people who don’t vote, saying “They’re all the same”?

Such people have a point. Far too many MPs start off as political assistants on leaving university. Their entire lives are spent in the bubble of SW1. They have little experience of a “normal” job and the more ambitious types will be very dependent on the support of their seniors if their hopes of climbing the greasy pole are to be realised. This in turn means that rising stars are less likely to be original thinkers or men and women of principle but rather those who ensure their faces, opinions and behaviour fit with their party’s ruling élite. They are not fit to govern in the real world.

It was very telling that, during a recent meeting with a “leave” campaigner who knows many MPs well, he referred to one particular MP as being a really likeable, pleasant individual – pointing out how rare such people are in the Palace of Westminster.

What has this to do with leaving the EU? Potentially a great deal. A successful “leave” campaign which marshals popular scepticism about our leading politicians – especially the Prime Minister – will send a tremendous shock through the Westminster Village.

David Cameron will be attempting to sell the “British Model” as a great negotiating triumph, a good deal for our country obtained in the teeth of ferocious opposition. Of course, it will be nothing of the sort. It would be the worst of all worlds, locking us permanently into the EU’s second division.

However. if Cameron’s powers of persuasion, using his status as Prime Minister, backed up by the BBC, the Alan Johnson-led Labour in for Britain campaign, the European Movement, British Influence, Richard Branson, Britain Stronger in Europe and, of course, the EU itself fail to convince the electorate, reputations will be shredded and many smug egos will lie in tatters.

Of course, europhiles will not give up, even though re-entry to the EU would be a long, slow process with little likelihood of success. Norway’s political élite has still not given up hope of shackling their country to the EU, a full 23 years after the country’s voters rejected membership for a second time.

This is where a successful withdrawal campaign should seize the initiative.

The Harrogate Agenda which has been incorporated into the Flexcit exit plan as the final of the six stages of disentanglement from the EU, is exactly the type of reform we need – a decentralising programme making politicians more accountable to the electorate and reducing the power of ministers – with even the Prime Minister being chosen directly by the electorate rather than the current situation where the person leading the biggest party automatically gains the job. These changes, which wold bring in real (i.e., direct) demoracacy, would hopefully ensure that the deceit and dishonesty which characterised the original accession process in the 1960s and 1970s and which are still part of political life in 2015 would not be repeated after withdrawal.

Quite how much opportunity for reform will be on offer by the time of the 2020 General Election remains to be seen, but a vote for withdrawal will add still further to the complexities of this potentially fascinating election. David Cameron has stated his intention to stand down by then, probably before then, so as to give his successor a clear run. Would a vote to leave cause him to go sooner?

A vote to leave would also seriously dent George Osborne’s chances of succeeding him, as he has been so closely associated with Cameron’s sham renegotiation. Labour, come what may, will still be in a state of civil war while the Lib Dems, founded as an implicitly pro-EU party, are unlikely to recover from their drubbing at the polls last May if we vote to leave.

What future awaits UKIP? The party was founded specifically to campaign for UK withdrawal. With that target achieved, its mission would have been accomplished. There are still unquestionably many voters utterly disillusioned with the three established parties. Could UKIP change into something that will fill this void?

We can but speculate on such matters but one way or other, the momentum created by a vote to leave will not be dissipated. Those of us who see withdrawal as merely the start of a re-shaping of politics in the UK will find ourselves presented with possibly the biggest opportunity in our lifetime.

In the 18th Century, the French philosopher Montesquieu claimed that the UK had the best political system in Europe at that time, having the only government constituted for the specific purpose of maximizing political liberty. Sadly, the USA and, in particular, Switzerland, have overtaken us. Indeed, our subservience to the EU has been a step backwards as far as democracy and freedom have been concerned.

It is now time to regain the initiative and to become again a leader in the field of democratic development. Our country is crying out for something better than the current system and we owe it to our fellow-countrymen not squander the opportunities presented by a successful “leave” campaign.

EU referendum: first EFTA/Single Market, then In/Out

Anti-EU Flag by EU Exposed / (CC BY 2.0)

The referendum on EU membership is planned as an In/Out referendum. Is this winnable? Is it the easiest way of gaining self-government? I don’t believe so. A Survation EU poll showed 47% want ‘Out’ of the EU, 31% wish to remain ‘In’ and 20% ‘Don’t Know’. However, with concessions, 41% would stay in the EU and 37% would leave, with 23% undecided. With polls over the years showing 30% want ‘In’ the EU, 40% something looser and 30% ‘Out’ the EU, are there other options?

Let’s look at the In/Out EU referendum approach. Firstly why do people in favour of EU membership prefer this referendum question, rather than a middle option EFTA/EEA/Single Market? Is it because they feel they could more likely win this referendum? I believe so. Why choose the second part of 2017 for this referendum? Well, the EU has something called a 6 month rotating Presidency, and Britain’s turn is in…the second half of 2017! This would give the pro-EU campaign an advantage.

What happened in the Scottish independence referendum? Firstly, the pro-independence campaign took a step-by-step approach. Their first referendum was for a Scottish Parliament and additional powers. Then they had an In/Out referendum – which they lost. And why did they lose – whether you are pro or anti Scottish independence? They didn’t go for a devo-max option, which would have given them full tax and spending powers. In addition, nearly all national politicians were for the union, so were big media, big banks and big business, and they also used scare tactics and some last minute concessions. In addition, the ‘don’t knows’ tend to vote for the status quo, i.e. remain in the union. Who knows how much phone and email hacking was going on by various agencies?

All of the above could be used in an In/Out EU referendum, and we could lose.

So what could be a step-by-step approach that achieves what we want – self-government – even faster. I suggest an EFTA/EEA referendum question:

‘Do you think Britain should be a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Economic Agreement (EEA)?’

The EEA is the Single Market, allowing free movement of: goods, services, people and capital. Britain is currently a member of the EU (political)/EEA (economic). Switching to EFTA/EEA is easy. This would allow Britain to restore control of:

  • Agriculture
  • Fisheries
  • Home Affairs
  • Justice
  • 60% fewer regulations
  • Reduce EU net contributions from £6 billion a year to £3 billion a year.
  • Use article 112 of the EEA agreement to only allow new Eastern Europeans to have a 1 year work permit, after which they return to their country.
  • Be able to negotiate Free Trade Agreements independent of the EU
  • Be able to veto EEA regulations

Opinion polls have shown:

  • 53% – EFTA/EEA
  • 22% – EU/EEA
  • 23% – Don’t Know

Or taking out the ‘Don’t Knows’, EFTA 71% and EU 29% – a larger margin than In/Out opinion polls show: http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Bruges-Group-Report.pdf

So, even though most people have never heard of EFTA – which includes Norway and Switzerland, with 3.5 % unemployment, and wealthy countries – they like what it has to offer. It is an off-the-shelf alternative.

The European Economic Community and Neighbours by mwmbwls / (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

EFTA has a website, www.efta.int, and people can also search the internet with ‘efta seminars’ to look at public seminars with powerpoint presentations of the EFTA/EEA and acquire a greater understanding of this EU alternative.

Since Britain has been a part of the EU it has had:

  • Cumulative trade deficit of over £400 billion with EU countries
  • Net contributions over £130 billion to the EU

Not a win-win agreement at all. The trade deficit leads to a loss of jobs, and also less company sales. This has a massive economic cost – less income tax, less council tax, less VAT, less fuel duty, less corporation tax, billions a year – i.e. other countries get this benefit. This affects NHS, defence, education spending and the deficit.

What else does the opinion poll show for EFTA/EEA support in detail? Survation poll shows 51% of women are in favour of EFTA/EEA, 19% for EU/EEA, and 30% ‘Don’t Know’, and also 43% of Labour voters for EFTA, with only 37% for the EU. There is also useful information here: http://www.brugesgroup.com/ (click on right ‘Alternatives to EU’).

EFTA has other benefits:

  • Likely get more votes
  • More winnable
  • Easier to implement
  • Faster to implement and get economic benefits
  • More likely to get lots of business support
  • An easier referendum option for other EU countries to win, and join EFTA, e.g. Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, Austria, maybe also Ireland.

There is a new Facebook page supporting UK membership of EFTA:

https://www.facebook.com/EFTA4UK

EFTA is a positive off-the-shelf alternative with support across the public, business and political spectrum, with ease of implementation to help Britain create more numerous and better paid jobs and improve public finances. The EFTA/EEA option is a huge improvement on the current EU/EEA treaty and would help realise many of the aspirations of the anti-EU groups and all their work over the years, with the option of more referendums in the future and treaty changes, as has been the norm in Europe.

(This article first appeared on the UCL Conservative Society website and is used with the author’s permission.)

Freedom of Movement between EEA (European Economic Area) states and the EU

A helpful summary by Robert Oulds of the restrictions on free movement of people which EEA states outside the EU can apply

Membership of the European Economic Area Agreement outside the EU includes the principle of free movement of labour but does allow EEA states in practice to place restrictions on immigration from EU states.

It is possible to impose restrictions on immigration (from EU and other EEA countries) whilst remaining in the EEA. 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 citizens’ access to benefits and to deny residency to those who are deemed not to 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 articles are often taken together , especially in cases of repatriation.

EEA/EFTA states are outside the provisions of Article 6 of the EU’s Treaty on European Union which states: 2. The Union shall accede to to to 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 an opt-out of areas of EEA rules. Iceland even unilaterally imposed capital controls after its financial crash of 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. Whilst this paper does not advocate such a policy it shows that some restriction on the free movement of people can be implemented.

The EEA rule relating to freedom of movement, Directive 2004/38 has qualifications, conditions and limitation. 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 EU citizens and their family members for periods of residence no longer than three months should be the subject of conditions. For periods of residence longer than three months. Member states should have the possibility to require EU citizens to register with the competent authorities in the place of residence, attested by a registration certificate issued to that effect.

The treaty allows restrictions to be placed on the right of free movement and residence on the grounds of public policy, public security or public health. Article 7. 1b(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 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, 20 April 1995, pages
L 86/58 and 86/80 .

(2) Official Journal of the European Communities , 3 January 1994, pages L/28, 176-8 and 562

(3) Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and Council of 29 April 2004.

Cameron is using Norway to make the Leave campaigns look risky

By Jonathan Lindsell of Civitas

During last week’s Prime Minister’s Questions and again at the Northern Future Forum in Reykjavik, David Cameron attacked the Brexit model known as the ‘Norway option’. This involves leaving the EU but joining the European Economic Area, a trade grouping that currently hosts Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Cameron appears to be positioning himself firmly on the In side of the EU referendum without saying so explicitly. Not only this, but he is using his prominence as head of government to try to outmanoeuvre the main “Leave” players.

He argued that ‘Norway actually pays as much per head to the EU as we do. They actually take twice as many per head migrants as we do in this country but of course they have no seat at the table, no ability to negotiate.’ This is not wholly accurate: in a Norwegian situation Britain would pay about £1bn less each year, and a Civitas paper explores the ways Norway can affect EU legislation without having a formal vote.

Still, the Norwegian situation has its drawbacks, and Cameron declared he ‘would guard very strongly against [promoting it].’ Why has he done this?

The answer lies in the Leave side’s response. Vote Leave‘s campaign director Dominic Cummings said: ‘Vote Leave does not support the ‘Norway option’ for Britain. After we vote leave, we will negotiate a new UK-EU deal based on free trade and friendly cooperation. We will end the supremacy of EU law.’ The rival Leave campaign, Leave.eu, responded similarly, with co-chair Richard Tice remarking ‘Of course we can negotiate our own UK EU trade agreement.’ Ukip’s only MP, Douglas Carswell, wrote in The Express, ‘The PM’s not wrong about Norway’s relationship with the EU: she has got a duff deal from Brussels’.

At the moment it makes sense them to attack the Norway model, because Cameron is drawing attention to its flaws. But by ruling Norway out as their own preferred Brexit blueprint, these Leave leaders back themselves into a corner. The Norway option is the simplest way to leave the EU, retain access to the single market, gain control over our own trade policy, and evade some (not all) EU law.

The model is probably the safest Brexit option to push for, because it is closest to the current EU situation, and because it already exists, so all the kinks and questions are already worked out. By forcing the Leave campaign to deny they like Norway’s situation, Cameron forces them towards more radical, less tangible Brexit promises. These he can attack as unrealistic fantasies later in the campaign.

The theoretical deals Cummings, Carswell and Tice prefer simply do not exist at the moment. They may be attainable, they may be much better than Norway, but you cannot point to them and prove it. As the referendum approaches, the Remain campaign will be able to say that Brexit supporters are fantasists who have ruled out the only path that preserves the single market. What’s left? A Swiss model that currently includes unrestrained immigration,that has no free movement of services, and that took over a decade to negotiate. Beyond the Swiss model there are yet fuzzier allusions to comprehensive free trade deals . When all 27 remaining EU members will be able to veto a UK exit deal, it will be hard for Out campaigners to convince voters that hypothetical perfect deals could be delivered. After that you’re left with the World Trade Organisation option, with Britain facing tariffs, barriers and quotas on all its EU exports.

There are actually smaller groups that support permutations of the Norway option, including Futurus, the Bruges Group and ‘Flexcit’ supporters. They don’t see the Norwegian situation as a final destination, but argue it would be better to take the exit step to the European Economic Area (EEA) first, then use it as a stepping stone to negotiate a more comprehensive settlement.

The EEA is useful for this because it preserves most EU law and the single market in goods, services, labour and capital. It already works, is already in operation, so would be simple to join. This is very important because after formally telling the EU that Britain had decided to leave, the government would have only two years to negotiate an exit arrangement. Disengagement from the EU would be complicated and would need to be comprehensive – less ambitious deals I’ve studied have taken much longer than two years to finalise. Moving to the EEA would be simpler, its supporters argue, and easier to sell to the public as a sensible option.

Cameron’s tactic may then pay off. At the moment he looks foolish, having attacked an exit proposal that the prominent players do not actually want to defend. But further down the line, assuming Cameron fights for his renegotiated EU membership, he will be able to say that the “leavers” are gamblers, that they jettisoned the low-risk option in favour of big vague promises they cannot explain how they would deliver. And he’s sure to bring up this week’s denials if they try to U-turn.

Used with the author’s permission. For the original article, see https://twitter.com/JJLindsell or  http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jonathan-lindsell/david-cameron-eu-referendum_b_8433994.html/05.11.15.

Photo by liknes