Take a Look at Norway How Life Might Be If the and Switzerland for UK Votes for Brexit; There Are 196 Countries in the World, of Which Just 28 Are in the European Union. David Williamson Explores What Options the UK Might Have If on June 23 the Country Votes to Head for the Exit Door. Will Britain Be a New Norway or Does a Dismal Future Await If the Link with Brussels Comes to an End?

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), May 26, 2016 | Go to article overview

Take a Look at Norway How Life Might Be If the and Switzerland for UK Votes for Brexit; There Are 196 Countries in the World, of Which Just 28 Are in the European Union. David Williamson Explores What Options the UK Might Have If on June 23 the Country Votes to Head for the Exit Door. Will Britain Be a New Norway or Does a Dismal Future Await If the Link with Brussels Comes to an End?


NORWAY is proof that leaving the European Union is not the same thing as leaving Europe - and so is Switzerland. Neither country is a member of the EU but what is more "European" than a Norwegian fjord or a Swiss cowbell? The two countries demonstrate it is possible to trade with the EU, enter the Eurovision song contest, and enjoy a standard of living that is the envy of most of the world without having MEPs in the European Parliament.

Next month the people of the UK have the opportunity to vote to leave the EU. Brexit would be a bit of a jump into the unknown because different camps will give you dramatically different descriptions of what awaits the UK outside the EU.

Supporters of leaving talk with bright-eyed excitement of a new era of international trade and restored sovereignty. Those who want to remain warn of recession and prolonged austerity.

What we know for certain is that a vote to leave would trigger a twoyear divorce process during which the UK Government would face the challenge of negotiating a new relationship with our immediate European neighbours, 27 of whom are members of the EU.

A quick glance at the deals non-EU countries have struck will give us an idea of what sort of future could await.

1. The Norwegian Model Do you want to have access to the European Single Market without being a member of the EU? Don't let anyone ever tell you that's impossible because this is the situation in Norway.

Yes, the country which lays claim to the invention of the paper clip and the cheese slicer is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) and has been since 1994. Iceland and Liechenstein are also members.

A recent analysis by the London School of Economics highlighted some factors which might make EEA membership attractive to voters who worry about Brussels wielding unhealthy influence over our lives.

It stated: "EEA membership does not oblige countries to participate in monetary union, the EU's common foreign and security policy or the EU's justice and home affairs policies." They can also "conduct their own trade negotiations with countries outside the EU".

In short, it would "allow the UK to remain part of the single market while not participating in other forms of European integration".

If you are of a eurosceptic persuasion but worried about losing access to the single market you might at this point ask: "What's not to love?" Well, quite a bit.

For starters, that access to the single market comes with a hefty membership fee. According to the LSE analysis, in 2011 Norway's contribution to the EU Budget was PS106 per head of the population while the UK's was PS128.

If your motivation for wanting to pull out of the EU is to stop sending billions of pounds to Brussels then this is probably not the model for you.

EEA members do not participate in the Common Agricultural Policy. If Britain followed this model it could expect an almighty row about what system of farming subsidy should be introduced - and where the cash would come from.

The Norway option will not hold many attractions if you have become a eurosceptic because you are worried about people from other EU countries coming to live here.

Norway has to accept free movement of people. This is not a way to pull up the drawbridge.

And if you burn with a desire to claw back control of our national life from EU bureaucrats this option could result in Britain having less sovereignty.

As the LSE experts point out: "By leaving the EU to join the EEA the UK would give up its influence over all EU decision-making including how to govern the single market."

It's also important to note how radically different Norway (not to mention Iceland or Liechenstein) is from the UK.

Norway's relationship allows it to pursue its own policy over fishing - traditionally a driver of the economy in this land with one of the world's longest coastlines. …

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Take a Look at Norway How Life Might Be If the and Switzerland for UK Votes for Brexit; There Are 196 Countries in the World, of Which Just 28 Are in the European Union. David Williamson Explores What Options the UK Might Have If on June 23 the Country Votes to Head for the Exit Door. Will Britain Be a New Norway or Does a Dismal Future Await If the Link with Brussels Comes to an End?
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