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Don't rock the boat - British EEA membership

15. desember 2018

Don't rock the boat - British EEA membership

Jan Brøgger is chairman of Årstad Høyre and city council candidate (Twitter: @janbrogger). Published in Bergens Tidende, December 15th 2018. Author’s translation.

The Brexit withdrawal agreement is humiliating. It gives full control of immigration, fish and agriculture but in return near permanent locking in of zero influence and no trade freedom. The deal has barely any support in Parliament, and the vote has been postponed causing widespread consternation..

Brighter Brits therefore propose an EEA solution. The strategy is to enter the EEA, and then break the EU by tempting wavering EU  members into a UK-dominated EEA. This threatens the whole EEA. The EEA Agreement will be a cuckoo in the EU’s nest - a parasite. The EU's response is easy to see - we can say goodbye to the EEA.

British EEA membership is only advisable  if they can endure close cooperation with the EU. They have not shown any signs of doing so. A series of unwise choices have led them there. The British elite reward their population for years of austerity with a Brexit that makes them poorer than the alternative. The Brexit talks have been characterized by hostile and norm-breaking rhetoric. It is therefore an honor for me to be blocked on Twitter by the UK ambassador to Norway [Richard Wood], as likely the only Norwegian politician.

Brexit has created a Norwegian internal EEA debate. The Center Party and Socialist Left's hostility to the EEA must seen as calculating or unrealistic populism. The Conservatives [Norway]  is also the party of the farmers. The reality is that British EEA membership also threatens our Norwegian farmers. Not rocking the boat is a prudent strategy, for there is no better deal available for our businesses or farmers.

There is a third solution - EFTA membership. This is not the same as the EEA. The British may accept an isolated British "third pillar" in EFTA, but who can say with that gang? A Norwegian EEA veto will be embarrassing but necessary.

We must hope that the British Parliament will give the British people a gift for New Years: accept the present agreement. If the agreement is rejected, it is in Norway's interest that EEA not becomes the solution to British problems.

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