The Pinocchio Prime Minister is today in Iceland, where he is most likely making representations on behalf of chief string-puller, Jean-Claude Junker, to the Prime Ministers of Iceland and Norway. Part of the plan to keep Britain in the EU involves a proposal to draw EEA states closer into the union via what is being called “associate membership”—although the name may still change—and who better to pull the wool over everybody’s eyes than Britain’s own PR puff meister Dodgy Dave Cameron?
Owen Paterson has the PM’s number on this one:
Do you think it is mere coincidence that the PM has travelled to Iceland to “push his case for changes to the UK’s relationship with the EU”? I think not.
The notion that second-class membership in a two-tier treaty union is a British initiative (although there is a twist to that) is absurd at best. The government has long argued that Britain needs to be in “Europe” (they mean the EU) in order have a seat at the “top table” of EU decision-making, which, given that membership of Kerneuropa (‘core Europe’ or sometimes just ‘the inner core’) would mean joining the euro currency, is never going to happen.
The “associate membership” idea, in its current incarnation, is laid out in the Bertelsmann/Spinelli report, A Fundamental Law for the European Union, which is effectively a draft treaty. The EU intention to fire the starting gun on treaty change is detailed in The Five Presidents’s Report and Jean-Claude Junker said as much during his most recent State of the Union address when he called for a White Paper to be published in Spring 2017—an event that the BBC reported as a “statement on immigration”.
The partisan BBC is once again puffing the Prime Minister’s non-existent case for “reform”—there are no negotiations—reporting that “A number 10 source said Norway accepts some EU rules with little say in the decisions made in Brussels”. This is a slight retrenchment from the outright lie of the “remains” that Norway has “no say”, easily debunked by The Sceptic Isle. But this is still a long way short of an honest assessment of Norway and Iceland’s relationship with the EU.
The fact of the matter is that the world has moved on considerably since the 1950s and the EU’s inflexible and anti-democratic structures are poorly suited to the governance of a modern democratic nation-state that wishes to engage fully with the rest of the world. “Unlike the UK, Norway has no votes in the European Council, no votes in the EU’s Council of Ministers, no MEPs or votes in the European Parliament, and no European Commissioner to help,” the source said. Frankly, who cares? Norway has consultative arrangements in EU decisions that relate to the Single Market, which contrary to what many sources say, are substantial—not to mention a veto.
Moreover, Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Costa Rica, Barbados, Chad, Benin, Suriname, Western Sahara and Australia (among others) have full self-representation on the world governing bodies where the overwhelming majority of international regulations originate. David Cameron, perhaps unknowingly, already conceded the point in his Bloomberg speech when he said that “our ability to help set [Single Market] rules is the principal reason for our membership of the EU.”
As the EU (and Britain) are both signatories to the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, our ability to help set Single Market rules is a principle reason to leave the EU and embrace a new relationship based on intergovernmental co-operation. The overwhelming majority of Single Market rules are technical standards for trade that apply globally. The EU role in the Single Market involves little more than putting its “stamp” on international regulations agreed between national governments at Codex in Rome, the United Nations Economic Commision for Europe (UNECE) in Geneva, the International Maritime Organisation in London, and so on.
The fact that the Prime Minister, the BBC and the establishment campaign—‘Vote Leave, Get Control’—all oppose the idea tells you much of what you need to know about the efficacy of accepting an interim “off-the-shelf” agreement to assure regulatory continuity and stability as part of a phased withdrawal. Flexcit tells you the rest.
Note: The BBC article from which I quoted has been ammended so that instead of “A number 10 source said Norway accepts some EU rules with little say in the decisions made in Brussels” that sentence now reads “But Downing Street says it still has to abide by most EU rules but has little say over how they are created.” 28/10/2015 13:15