Brexit: what is the Norway model and would it work?

By On October 31, 2018

Brexit: what is the Norway model and would it work?

Oct 31, 2018

Norwegians unhappy about plan for UK to copy deal until new agreement reached with EU

A “Norway for now” plan gaining support among Conservative MPs as a means to prevent a breakdown in Brexit negotiations has been criticised by Norway itself.

See related What is the ‘Super Canada’ Brexit plan?Irish border: the post-Brexit optionsBrexit glossary: from max fac and Chequers to Norway and Canada +++

Speaking to reporters during a visit by Theresa May in Oslo this week, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg suggested that her country was not happy about the idea of the UK temporarily piggybacking on its relationship with the EU as a way out of the present Brexit impasse.
“I don’t think it’s easy to think that you can enter into an organisation you are preparing to leave at the same time,” Solberg said. “It is a little bit difficult for the rest of us.”
The suggestion that the UK should replicate the so-called Norway model has gained grounded among the Tories in recent weeks.

In an article for The Times last week, Conservative MP Nick Boles called on May to scrap the planned transition arrangement due to start in March 2019 and instead enter the European Economic Area - the common market binding Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein with the EU - for three years, along with a temporary customs union in order to leave the Irish border unchanged.

Responding to Norway’s subsequent rejection of this plan, Boles said the objection was “obviously disappointing” but that he did not think it fatally undermined the scheme.
“The EU is trying to close off options to give any deal it strikes with May the best chance of getting through Parliament,” he said. “If that deal is rejected and we are facing a no-deal scenario then positions may shift.”

What is the Norway model?

Since the EU referendum in 2016, Norway’s deal has been discussed as one possible solution to the issue of Brexit. Norway is not a member of the European Union but is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), which means that it is also part of the single market.
So “it’s about as close to the EU as you can get without being a member state”, explains the BBC.

In practice, Norway has full access to the single market, and very limited barriers to trade with the EU.

However, in return, it has to make substantial contributions to the EU budget, and to follow most EU rules and laws including the four freedoms: the freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and people.

As such, Norway’s existing relationship with the EU “has elements that wouldn’t deliver on the vote of the British people”, May said during her visit to the Norwegian capital this week.

So will it happen?

Jean Claude Piris, former director-general of the EU Council’s Legal Service, has posted a detailed critique on Twitter of Boles’ idea.
Piris said that neither the EEA nor the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) are open to a temporary membership, and that he doubts “their members would accept such a change”.
He noted, too, that it would be impossible to achieve a Norway model status by Brexit day in March, as UK candidacies to both organisations could not be negotiated before that date.
Furthermore, “it seems unlikely that Conservative hardliners would be open to the idea of Britain joining the EEA as a temporary safe harbour”, says the Financial Times.
Leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg told Bloomberg: “I think it is difficult, when would it end, would the EU entertain subsequent negotiations, so does it merely postpone the [World Trade Organization] option?”

However, “if a deal with the EU is struck but t hen voted down by Parliament then we will be in uncharted territory”, says The Times.

At that point, “all options (including some version of Norway) could be up for debate”, adds the BBC.

Source: Google News Norway | Netizen 24 Norway

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