Debating the EEA

Tonight in the House of Commons there was a debate on Brexit, the EEA (European Economic Area) and EFTA (European Free Trade Association). Watch HERE.

The debate was organised by Stephen Kinnock MP. 

We recommend you read the debate which you can find HERE.

The veteran Eurosceptic Sir Bill Cash made some large errors during this debate, seemingly quoting direct from the Legatum Institute.

He said:

“For a free trade agreement to be possible after Brexit, the interim period must involve no membership of the EEA, the customs union or EFTA, because that would remove the freedom we need to negotiate with third countries.

That includes any period in the EEA, being party to the EEA agreement, like EFTA states, or a bilateral Swiss-style agreement. The EEA essentially means membership of the single market and commitment to the four freedoms—free movement of goods, services, capital and workers.

Three EFTA states—Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein—signed the EEA agreement in 1994, but the EEA agreement would mean insufficient freedom for us to be a credible partner in trade negotiations with others.”

As readers of this blog will know, this is very similar to what Legatum have been saying – they believe that for us to become a successful ‘Global Britain’ after Brexit we need to be outside the EU’s Custom’s Union, Common External Tariff or Common commercial policy.

On those points, we agree. 

Where we disagree with them is that we don’t believe that the UK should shun the EEA (European Economic Area) or European Free Trade Association (EFTA). 

These structures and agreements would allow us to maintain largely frictionless trade with our largest trading partner – the EU27 while still allowing us to sign Free Trade Agreements around the world. 

Legatum seems to think that by jettisoning all regulatory ties to the EU and EFTA we can ‘put everything on the table’ during trade talks to sign some super-duper trade deal with say – the USA. This approach is effectively putting all our eggs in one basket and hoping for the best.

Sadly, this high-risk strategy is likely to be followed by the Government, since Legatum seems to have the ear of the  Department for Exiting the European Union DExEU according to this information released by FOI request:

 

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