In recent days the attention of the media, besides being focused on ‘matters EU’ and referendums, it has also found time to focus attention on Ukip and Norway – quelle surprise not. The latest article on the latter appeared in the Guardian yesterday, one authored by Keven McKenna, from which two matters of immediate interest arise.
Discussing capital spending, McKenna writes:
“….would a Conservative administration led by Cameron and George Osborne resist the entreaties of big business to be involved in deciding how best to spend oil and gas revenues? Would a New Labour one?”
Forgive me for once again surmounting my Harrogate Agenda hobby horse, but is it not right that the people of this country should decide the priority on which any revenue this country generates, is spent?
Much is made by McKenna about Norway’s membership of EFTA and the EEA and that Switzerland rejected membership of the EEA for an alternative method of trading with the EU, opting for bi-lateral agreements instead. As an aside McKenna is wrong in his assertion that while Norway can veto EU legislation, it has not done so – it has, as I showed earlier. The subject of EEA membership vs bi-lateral agreements is one that has not been discussed in any detail – and it should be, in my humble opinion.
Within their blinkered vision, those pushing for an In/Out referendum appear to have completely ignored ‘the after’ – in other words what happens when we have terminated our present agreement with the European Union. The present debate, were there to be a referendum, will be concentrated, it would seem, on the cost/benefit of being either in or out and no doubt reams of statistics will be thrust down the throats of the electorate by both sides in the argument. The question of EEA membership vs bi-lateral agreements is one that not one of the political parties, or the media, have addressed – and more importantly, when I state ‘none of the political parties’, that includes Ukip, the one party at the forefront of the headlong rush for a referendum – to which one could add the Better Off Out group.
There are those commenting on blogs who wish, were we to leave, to ignore all future directives and regulations issued by the EU. Were that course of action to be followed, then membership of EFTA could well create tensions because if Britain did follow that course then those directives and regulations would also have to be ignored by those other member states. To relieve those tensions, that little clause would require amending, were that possible.
As days pass it is becoming more and more obvious that the question of an In/Out referendum is not that simple and those pushing that agenda need to stop and think because otherwise they are doing a disservice, not only to themselves, but also those to whom they are appealing.
Afterthought: Do not misunderstand, I am not suggesting that membership of EFTA is not a suitable ‘parking place’ for the UK while we sort out ‘other matters’, but merely posing the odd question or two. It is interesting that on the matter of adherence to EU directives and regulations, the government confirmed just a few days ago that non-adherence by non-EU members is perfectly possible by variety of means.