I have seldom read such a farrago of nonsense as Tony
Giugliano’s article in the February SI on the alleged disadvantages of
membership of the EFTA side of the European Economic Area. He simply
repeats a catalogue of hoary old mythology
that has been
repeated far too often from hearsay alone. He
makes no reference to any sources, above all the Agreement on the
European Economic Area that came into force on 1 January 1994.
He alleges that the EFTA states have to implement EU
regulations and directives with no say in their drafting. Apart from
the reality that no democratic government either would or could put
itself into such an untenable position, the suggestion is utter
nonsense. Under the EEA Agreement, especially Articles 99 to 101, the
EFTA members have exactly the same rights as the EU side of the EEA, as
the following extracts show (since the Agreement predates the European
Union, read EU for EC):
1. As soon as
new legislation is being drawn up by the EC Commission in a field which
is governed by this Agreement, the EC Commission shall informally seek
advice from experts of the EFTA States in the same way as it seeks
advice from experts of the EC Member States for the elaboration of its
The EC Commission shall ensure experts of the EFTA States as wide a
participation as possible … in the preparatory stage of draft measures …
In this regard, when drawing up draft measures the EC Commission shall
refer to experts of the EFTA States on the same basis as it refers to
experts of the EC Member States. …the EC Commission shall transmit to
the …Council the views of the experts of the EFTA states.
That disposes once and for all of the mythology that the
EFTA states have no say in the formulation of EU legislation, but there
is more to it than that.
All the EFTA members of the EEA are represented
individually on its governing bodies, including the EEA Joint Committee,
EEA Council, EEA Court of Justice, etc., but its EU members are
represented collectively by the EU Commission.
applies to the all-important "top table" of the World Trade Organisation
(WTO), where the EFTA members retain their individual voices, whereas
the EU members have only one voice - that of the EU Commission. A seat
at the "top table"? What happens when a collective EU motion to the WTO
represents the interests of France and Germany, but runs diametrically
counter to the interests of Scotland?
voting power of a nation of 5 millions within a union of 500 millions,
Scotland as an EU member would be in a position ten times worse than the
one we are presently with good reason trying to escape.
The EEA financial commitments are laid down in
Articles 115 to 117 of the EEA Agreement, and are elaborated in
protocols 38a, b and c. These contributions are specifically for the
reduction of economic and social disparities between the EEA member
states – a kind of development aid. They are NOT contributions to the
general EU funds, as Mr. Giuliani alleges. Even the notoriously
tight-fisted Swiss voters agreed by a substantial referendum majority to
pay them, for the privilege of staying out of the European Union.
The SDA has calculated, on the basis of the Swiss and
Norwegian payments, that Scotland’s contribution to the solidarity funds
for weaker EEA member states would be of the order of £200 million
annually. That contrasts with Scotland’s present payments to the EU,
which in 2010 amounted to £845 million and is steadily climbing due to
the meltdown of the Euro currency system. As an EU member state,
Scotland’s payment would certainly be considerably higher. Only a tiny
fraction of our payments comes back to us as grants. Added to this is
the loss of wealth creation capacity due to the EU Common Fisheries
policy, which is presently approaching £2,000 million every year. The
Common Agriculture Policy has been a similar financial and social
disaster for Scotland of almost the same magnitude.
An equally important reason for switching to the EFTA
side of the EEA would be the reduction by three quarters of the volume
of EU legislation that would have to be processed and applied in
Scotland. This is based on information coming from an authoritative
source in Norway. The diplomatic and administrative time and expense
involved in coping with this flood of legislation is a serious economic
factor that is proving a considerable burden for smaller EU member
states like Slovenia and others.
Norway and Switzerland both implement EU regulations
and directives that they are not obliged to observe, but they do so
voluntarily when this is seen to be convenient or to have advantages for
them. The point is that they have the choice, whereas if they were EU
members they would have no option but to fall in line, even if the
legislation concerned was not in their interests.
There is nothing to prevent Scotland in the EFTA side
of the EEA from trading with all 50 European states, including the half
of Europe that is not in the EU. Furthermore, all the Four Freedoms of
the EEA Internal Market are available to its EFTA members. As I know
from many years of commuting between Scotland and Central Europe, my
citizenship rights, my freedom of travel, health care, pension rights
and the rest are all guaranteed within the EEA, and not just the EU.
The EU is based to a considerable extent on
fraudulent misrepresentation that would land the directors of a private
sector organisation in court – e.g. a “European” Parliament that is only
one of four European parliaments and represents only a portion of
Europe. The 56-member OSCE Parliamentary Assembly represents double the
number of states.
Mr. Giuliani refers to a “European Court of Justice (ECJ)”.
No such institution exists, not even the name.
The EU court
is an internal tribunal that adjudicates only on EU-internal
regulations, directives and other matters concerning only its 27 member
states. It has no European legal jurisdiction whatsoever, especially
not over genuine European law emanating from the other major
all-European institutions like the Council of Europe, the OSCE or the
UNECE, which unlike the EU are all repositories of important
international treaties. We don’t need the Euro catastrophe to convince
us that all is not well with the EU experiment. What we have to ensure
is that Scotland is not sucked into this disaster waiting to happen.