As a small child, so small I no longer remember the specifics of the question, I asked my father about immigration. While I can no longer recall the question, his answer will remain with me forever.
“Anyone who wants to come and work, pay taxes and raise their children is as British as you or I.”
And that small child grew up into the sort of person who knows the SECOND verse of the Marseilles. The sort who secretly listens to French pop music. The type of person who always has enough Euros in his wallet to grab a pack of Galois, an expresso and a copy of the IHT wherever he has ended up. And the where has included living and working across Europe and beyond. Therefore, the principle of free movement of workers – if not the implementation – is something for which I am passionate advocate.
Consequently, people are often surprised by my opposition to the EU. “But you love Europe”, they exclaim. “It will still be there after we leave the EU”, I respond.
Effectively there are two clubs that can play in the single market I explain. The European Union is the club for countries that plan to federate.
The European Free Trade Association is the trade bloc-alternative for European states who are unwilling to join the federation.
If we do not plan to federate I argue, we should be in the latter.
Why joining the European Free Trade Association would be better for the UK than EU membership:
Will we have any say over the rules?
Critics argue that if we leave and rejoin EFTA we will still “have to obey EU rules”.
Let’s be clear – the EU has very little influence over EFTA states.
The EFTA states are exempt from most of the contentious EU policy areas such as:
Common Agriculture and Fisheries Policies
Common Trade Policy
Common Foreign and Security Policy
Justice and Home Affairs
Monetary Union (EMU)
The areas in which the EU does have control are largely those to do with the single market, product standards and regulations. In many cases these rules are simply European interpretations of standards agreed at regional or global standard-setting bodies.
“People in EFTA are more than twice as rich as those in the EU. They also enjoy lower inflation, higher employment, healthier budget surpluses and lower real interest rates. Interestingly, they also export more per head than EU states, selling $16,498 per capita to overseas markets – the highest ratio in the world.
Since British Euro-philes have always based their argument on economic necessity, EFTA pretty well demolishes their case. Here, after all, is empirical evidence that countries which participate in the European market without subjecting themselves to the associated costs of membership are wealthier than full EU members.
Nor is this coincidence. The EFTA states have found a way to have their cake while guzzling away at it. They are not identical, of course; each one has struck its own accord with Brussels. In particular, there are important differences between Switzerland, whose relations with the EU are mediated through sixteen sectoral treaties, and the other three, which are members of the European Economic Area (EEA). But some things can be said of all four of them.”