The 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@example.com and we will make a note of your request and when copies once again become available, ensure one is dispatched to you.
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.
On 30th June 2011 The Rt Hon David Lidington MP, Minister for Europe, claimed a number of benefits that follow from Britain’s EU membership. In this rebuttal the Bruges Group addresses the main points he raises.
1) Access to the Single Market is of central economic importance to the UK
The Single Market is a Customs Union with the institutions of the European Union making regulations which govern businesses within it. There are no important customs unions anywhere else in the world.
EU membership is not a prerequisite for access to the Single Market. Switzerland and Norway which are outside of the EU, export more in relation to their GDPs and per capita than the UK does. Furthermore, both China and the USA each export more to the EU than the UK does and without having their economies burdened by costly EU regulation.
Countries as far afield as Mexico, Turkey, Chile and South Africa have tariff free access to the Single Market. Without having to pay the huge costs associated with the EU. As shown later in this report the costs both the taxpayer and the British economy amount to many 10s of billions of pounds per year.
The Single Market with its four freedoms of free movement of goods, capital, services, and people is not just reserved for EU members. Those four freedoms also apply to members of what is known as the European Economic Area (EEA). Britain is also a member of the EEA and this guarantees that Britain will always enjoy those four freedoms regardless of EU membership.
2) The EU is one of the world’s most important trading zones
Less that 10% of the UK economy is involved with trading with businesses in other EU member- states. However, 100% of our economy must comply with the EU’s excessive regulatory burden.
Single Market trade is also becoming less important to the UK. With the growth of emerging markets the amount of British foreign trade with the rest of the world is set to increase so that by
2020 around 70% of Britain’s foreign trade will not be with the EU. Presently, the EU accounts for approximately just 40% of the UK’s trade.
3) The benefits of EU membership… include free movement
As previously stated citizens of European Economic Area member-states have the opportunity for free movement throughout both the EU and the EEA. If the government continues to support the free movement of people then this can be achieved via the UK’s membership of the EEA.
ree movement into the UK is also an issue of great political concern in the UK, yet government cannot address this whilst governed by EU rules in this area.
4) That 3.5 million jobs, 10% of the UK workforce, are reliant on exports to EU member states
This misleading claim first emerged in the year 2000 from the now defunct Britain in Europe group which unsuccessfully campaigned for Britain to join the euro. They apparently based this claim on research they commissioned into how many jobs were involved with the EU. However, Dr Martin Weale the Director of The National Institute for Economic and Social Research described Britain in Europe’s spin as “pure Goebbels” and said, “in many years of academic research I cannot recall such a willful distortion of the facts.” The report had in reality came to the conclusion that the jobs would still exist regardless of whether the UK was a member of the EU or not.
It is surprising that a Conservative Minister is repeating that erroneous claim.
British people and business do not need to remain within the EU, a supra-national political structure, to trade with other people and businesses on the continent.
The UK is a member of the European Economic Area and EEA members have tariff free access to the Single Market. Furthermore, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) would prevent the EU discriminating against British exporters. What is more, Articles 3, 8 and 50 of the Lisbon Treaty legally requires the EU to negotiate “free and fair trade” with non-EU countries.
The UK is the single biggest purchaser of exports from the other 26 EU member-states. They sell far more to Britain than British businesses sell to them. Perhaps the government should take action to address structural trade deficit which effectively means that Britain losing jobs to the continent.
5) Collective action gives us more negotiating power
Britain, with only 8% of the votes in the Council of Ministers has little formal power over the determination of EU rules, whereas a sovereign state would have 100% authority over its own affairs.
Outside of the EU Britain can retake its seat on the World Trade Organisation and negotiate according to our best interests instead of being represented by an EU trade commissioner who is currently from Belgium. Britain will then be able to negotiate without being encumbered by the differing interests of other EU nations that often have a different outlook to the UK. And as one of the largest WTO members the UK can support the many other members who share our global trading outlook.
Britain is having its own foreign policy decisions being subjugated to common EU positions. Both national and EU embassies will have to cooperate. As a result of the common foreign policy the UK diplomatic service will be receiving direction from the EU’s High Representative.
EU rules also state that “The High Representative shall represent the Union for matters relating to the common foreign and security policy. He or she shall conduct political dialogue with third parties on the Union’s behalf and shall express the Union’s position in international organisations and at international conferences.”
They also state that “When the Union has defined a position on a subject which is on the United Nations Security Council agenda, those Member States which sit on the Security Council shall request that the High Representative be asked to present the Union’s position.”
Furthermore, Defence integration is already underway.
One of the areas cited by Mr Lidington included the ability to reduce crime, catch criminals and take action to tackle abuse of the asylum system
What Mr Lidington may be unaware of is that Britain cannot deport foreign EU criminals because of an EU directive, number 2004/58/EC. The EU’s increasing involvement in areas to do with Justice and Home Affairs such as the European Arrest Warrant and the European Investigation Order are seen as threats to our civil liberties and should not be welcomed.
The attempt to claim that EU control over Britain’s asylum policy as a benefit of EU membership is also surprising.
6) Mr Lidington was confident in the UK’s ability to move the EU in the right direction
The EU is unreformable, it is not proposing to return any powers to the member-states and the EU continues to legislate thus continually deepening the centralisation within the EU.
7) The governments EU referendum lock was also cited in the letter as part of moving the EU in the right direction
It does no such thing. The Government have introduced the EU Bill, containing the so-called ‘Referendum Lock’; however this does not prevent the EU expanding its powers without a referendum. It can still do this by legislating in new areas which it has not as yet done so but are granted to it as shared competences under the terms of the treaties. Once it has done so this becomes another EU occupied field and national Parliaments must then confirm to EU law and can only legislate in those areas if they obey the principles of the EU legislation. The EU Bill does not cover referendums in such circumstances and only in the event of there being a new Treaty and then only if the Government considers a Treaty change a ‘significant’ transfer of power.
In conclusion what Mr Lidington has failed to address is the enormous costs of Britain’s EU membership:
- Britain has to hand over to the EU more than £10 billion each year excluding contributions to the bailout schemes
- The Common Agricultural Policy costs Britain at least £16.8 billion per annum. According to the Consumer Nominal Assistance Coefficient (CNAC), on average, agricultural prices paid by European consumers are 23% higher than those prevailing in international markets. It means higher food prices for an average family in the UK of £1,500 per year.
- The Common Fisheries Policy costs Britain over £3 billion in lost commercial opportunities each year. This figure is derived at by calculating the proportion of the value of the EU’s total catch, approximately £5 billion per year, of which it is estimated that 70% comes from previously defined British waters. Furthermore, in 1970 there were 21,443 fishermen in the UK. By 2007 that figure had dropped to 12,729: a decrease of 40.64%.
- Over-regulation from the EU on business costs Britain over £20 billion per annum holding back UK economic growth by 2% each year. The British Chamber of Commerce Burdens Barometer, counting regulation from Whitehall and Brussels, puts the cumulative figure of total regulation upon British businesses much higher. At least 50%, and perhaps as much as 70%, of this legislation originated from Brussels, therefore the cost of EU regulation is at least 2% of GDP and that is a conservative estimate. Peter Mandelson told the 2004 CBI conference that the cost of regulation amounts to 4% of Europe’s GDP. Also in 2004 the Dutch Vice Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Gerrit Zalm stated that the administrative burden on business in the Netherlands was estimated at 4% of GDP. In October 2006 Gunter Verhuegen, the European Commission Vice-President for industry and Enterprise estimated that the annual cost of EU regulation across the EU amounted to €600 billion per annum (around 5.5% of GDP), while the benefits of the Single Market amount to only €160 billion: therefore the costs exceeded the benefits by €440 billion. Later, in a letter from Commissioner Verhuegen to Bill Newton-Dunn MEP, dated 18th June 2007, he gives the overall EU figure as an average of 3.5% of GDP for all member states and the figure would be similar for the UK. Therefore, the £20 billion per annum and 2% figures are erring on the side of caution.
The question needs to be asked if this is a cost worth paying and ask for a genuine explanation of what we get in return. If the Treasury disputes those figures then there should be an official cost benefit analysis into Britain’s EU membership.
THE BRUGES GROUP
The Bruges Group is an independent all–party think tank. Set up in February 1989, its aim was to promote the idea of a less centralised European structure than that emerging in Brussels. Its inspiration was Margaret Thatcher’s Bruges speech in September 1988, in which she remarked that “We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them re–imposed at a European level…”. The Bruges Group has had a major effect on public opinion and forged links with Members of Parliament as well as with similarly minded groups in other countries.
The Bruges Group spearheads the intellectual battle against the notion of “ever–closer Union” in Europe. Through its ground–breaking publications and wide–ranging discussions it will continue its fight against further integration and, above all, against British involvement in a single European state.
For more information about the Bruges Group please contact:
Robert Oulds, Director
The bruges group, 227 Linen Hall, 162-168 Regent Street, London W1B 5TB
Tel: +44 (0)20 7287 4414
CIB Committee member Dr Lee Rotherham has just published a booklet entitled titled “Manning the Pumps – A handbook for salvaging the Eurosceptic credentials of the Conservative Party“ in conjunction with The Freedom Association.
Last week marked the first time that voters elected a representative from the UK Independence Party to the UK Parliament. A key reason for this is a dissatisfaction amongst voters with the strategy of the main Westminster parties – especially over issues that are influenced by the European Union.
What is needed is a clear strategy from the Conservative Party to defend UK interests and provide reassurance to the British public that its concerns are being taken seriously.
Dr Rotherham’s booklet provides a list of twenty suggested steps to help form the right strategy that can send a clear message to Brussels on behalf of the British people.
As mentioned in the forward by Sir Bernard Ingham, without such a clear strategy the fear of the “unknown” will lead to either intimidation to remain in a largely unreformed EU or will “marvellously fudge the outcome of negotiation“.
This will breed further dissatisfaction amongst voters.
With seven months until the next General Election, now is the time to develop a strategy and present a clear and credible path to the British public. As Dr Rotherham writes:
“This is a rare opportunity. Achievement, after all, is vision plus motion. A pointy stick sometimes helps: the polls now provide the incentive to get things right.“
To download the free booklet, please click on this link.
The Campaign for an Independent Britain held a public rally at the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster, London on Saturday March 11th.
The rally featured speakers from a number of affiliated eurosceptic groups – highly appropriate given the title of the meeting was “Stronger together, looking forward. Bringing the Eurorealist groups together”. The meeting was chaired by CIB’s chairman Petrina Holdsworth and both George West, CIB’s President and our Hon. Secretary Edward Spalton, gave addresses. The other speakers came from organisations affiliated to CIB – John Mills from the Labour Euro Safeguards Campaign, Simon Richards from The Freedom Association and Robert Oulds from the Bruges Group.
The prospect of a referendum if David Cameron is returned to power in next month’s General Election dominated the meeting and has unquestionably been a factor in encouraging eurosceptic groups to recognise the need to work more closely together. The speakers agreed that a referendum before 2017 looked to be highly improbable, but it was pointed out that Cameron has selected the second half of that year deliberately to coincide with the UK presidency of the EU. Although a Conservative victory is by no means a foregone conclusion, it is most likely that Cameron’s team have agreed on the choreography with the main players (such as Germany’s Chancellor Merkel) that will enable him to claim a significant concession that will pull the wool over the electorate’s eyes. In other words, he is seeking to repeat Harold Wilson’s trick in 1975, where nothing of any significance was really agreed.
All the speakers acknowledged that we start as the underdogs, although underdogs have a long history of pulling off surprising victories. Simon Richards suggested that several different campaigns to suit different sections of the electorate may be one way forward. John Mills mentioned his involvement with Business for Britain and the importance of winning support from the business community. He mentioned the slogan used by the “out” campaign of 1975, in which he played a prominent role: -“Out of Europe, into the world”. Given the gradual re-orientation of our trade away from the EU in recent years, this ought to have resonance forty years later.
Robert Oulds emphasised the need to be able to sell an exit model that will not cause job losses. He explained the reasons for his support for the EEA/EFTA model as used by Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. He also explained why the “Swiss”, “Turkish” and “WTO” options would not be feasible as an immediate exit route, although he also stressed that while EEA/EFTA would be the only route to a seamless exit, it is not an ideal long-term relationship between an independent UK and the EU. He emphasised the volatility of public opinion. Euroscepticism tends to increase in times of economic downturns.
However, the cause is not lost. Bruges Group surveys indicate that when the voters are offered a choice between the EU and EFTA – in other words, between a political Europe and a trading relationship – the result is overwhelmingly in favour of EFTA. He stated that both Richard North and Hugo van Randwyck have met with senior officials from EFTA, who indicated that the UK would be very welcome to re-join. We must be positive, said Mr Oulds – emphasising joining something rather than leaving something.
A series of videos of the day’s proceedings will be posted to the website in the next couple of weeks. However, as a post script, Edward Spalton mentioned that, in the 1975 referendum, his father voted to stay in because although he felt distrustful about the whole Common Market business, “If that man Tony Benn is against it, there must be something good about it!”
Given that Tony Blair has come out so strongly in favour of us staying in, could history repeat itself and a thoroughly mistrusted politician once again act as a recruiting sergeant for the side he opposes? We can but hope.