And so, on with the false meme

The Independent, in an article today authored by James Moore, reports on a new research paper about the ramifications of ‘Brexit’, this particular paper being one written by James Knightley for ING.

This paper is not intended, it appears, for general distribution and although I have managed to obtain a copy, it is under the strict instructions it cannot be reproduced in full although it is permissable for extracts to be quoted.

A great deal of this paper deals with the potential effects on GDP of ‘Brexit’, details of which I have not been able to verify due to time constraints imposed by my imminent home move. However I cannot let pass without comment one statement that is made in this paper – and which shows, yet again, that (a) the author knows not about that which he writes due to (b) a total lack of research.

On page 5 we read:

A second option is joining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) along with
Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein, and sign up to the European Economic
Area (EEA), which would allow the UK to participate in the single market with zero tariffs.
At the same time it would free itself from obligations related to the Common Agriculture
Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy.

However, the UK would still have to make a financial contribution to the EU and adopt all
EU legislation relating to the single market without having a say on these laws. Being a
member of the EEA would also mean that workers from other EU member states would
continue to be able to live and work in the UK. Consequently, we doubt that the UK would
sign up to the EEA either.

Had Knightley done his homework, had he the faintest idea on that which he pontificates, he would know that Norway sits on over 200 committees within the EFTA/EEA; that under the terms stipulated in the EEA agreements the European Union is mandated to consult with EFTA/EEA members; that Norway has a seat of its own on United Nation’s bodies that set standards, said standards which are then handed down to governments and trade blocs (of which the EU is one) for implementation: that as of 2013 there were over 400 matters of EU law that Norway had not implemented; and that as a last resort Norway, as a member of the EEA has the final resort of a veto over the implementation of EU law.

What is missed is that if one discounts the above facts about membership of committees, coupled with the fact that EFTA members are mandated to be consulted; the fact remains that by sitting on the bodies which set standards, EFTA members do have a voice – and it beggars belief that this ‘meme’ about Norway is allowed to prevail; it beggars belief that those who present what are, in the event, misleading ‘research papers’ are allowed to continue without being questioned; and it beggars belief that the media continue to reproduce such examples of being economical with the actualité with themselves  guilty of not doing their own research prior to printing it.

In the hope that either Knightley or ING will issue a correction, this article has been brought to their attention.

Update: With reference to the last paragraph, the following email has been sent to Adrian Simpson of ING:


My belated thanks for forwarding the research paper by James Knightley.

I must, unfortunately, bring to his – and your – attention what I consider is a gross misrepresentation where membership of EFTA/EEA is concerned.

This is raised in the following article which appears on my blog, Witterings from Witney

Under the circumstances it is hoped that Knightley’s article will be amended and an acknowledgement appended that an error was made in the original version.

With kind regards,

David Phipps

Obviously any response from ING or James Knightley will be published.

4 Responses

  1. A K Haart says:

    Knightley seems to be no better informed than Cameron. Maybe their Brexit memes are from the same source.

  2. always write says:

    david ref norway: norway is totally captive to eu law/ directives. if you dont believe me go to the efta surveillance authority web site ! if my memory is correct the original bruges group paper by richard north fails to even mention this organisation! also i seem to remember one of the entrants to the brexit competition last year worked for efta! back to the surveillance authority, of particular interest is the internal market scoreboard.last time i looked i think norway was top.

  3. Oswald Thake says:

    Thanks, David. Keep us informed, please.

  4. Douglas Beckley says:

    At time of writing I don’t really feel surprised you don’t seem to have been in receipt of your reply.

    More than anything, I would have been fair staggered that the subjective matter you raised was even acknowledged to exist by this individual, quite apart from giving an opinion on the substantive matters at hand.

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