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EFTA in a time of Brexit August 10, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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This is kind of telling, a sudden aversion on the part of Norway to see the UK join the European Free Trade Association. And where’s the surprise in that given that the UK – or rather Brexiteers – has been making noises about a sort of bespoke version of EFTA membership for themselves. And moreover:

Norway’s European affairs minister, Elisabeth Vik Aspaker, reflecting a growing debate in the country following Brexit, told the Aftenposten newspaper: “It’s not certain that it would be a good idea to let a big country into this organisation. It would shift the balance, which is not necessarily in Norway’s interests.”
She also confirmed that the UK could only join if there was unanimous agreement, thereby providing Norway with a veto. She added she did not know the UK’s plans.EEA membership requires access to the four EU freedoms: free movement of persons, services, goods and capital. Norway, in need of extra labour, does not oppose free movement, though the subject of asylum seekers and refugees is controversial.

This point about Britain’s relative economic and other weight upsetting matters is intriguing. I’ve a post ready for this week which points to how that size may be overstated in relation to other matters.

For what it’s worth, which isn’t much I suppose, I’d guess that in extremis a deal will be done, or some sort of sub-EFTA position will be found for the UK.

Just on Norway and the EFTA, the broad political consensus is that membership of the latter is no great shakes, but public opinion is overwhelmingly against joining the EU. Yet public opinion is also fairly strongly in favour of continued membership of the EEA. According to this site 61% of the population supports that position. I don’t think they’re going to exit EFTA anytime soon. Unless EFTA itself changes. And that might be the best argument for keeping the UK, or whatever remains of it in the long run, in their own specially measured up limbo.

But it’s yet another indication that all this is going in utterly unpredictable ways.

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