More evidence that Cameron lied about Norway and Switzerland

The europhile narrative when it comes to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) members of the European Economic Area (EEA) –  is that they are obliged to adopt all EU legislation related to the single market.  The stated exceptions are in matters of agriculture and fisheries.

Indeed, as we have seen recently seen David Cameron say of Norway and Switzerland’s position (blindly accepted and repeated by organisations that take their lead from Conservative Central Office):

[...] basically you have to obey all the rules of the single market but you don’t have a say over what they are.

So, poking around various websites, it was very interesting to come across this information published in mid-December on europolitics.info concerning the assessesment of relations between the EU and the EFTA states by the European Council:

The EEA agreement “has proven to be effective and in the interest of all,” state the draft conclusions by the 27, which nevertheless regret that Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland have not yet incorporated into their national laws a “large number” of legal acts adopted in the EU. The homogeneity of the internal market and its “credibility” depend on their doing so, notes the text.

You can read the full report that spawned the article here.  The full text of the article is at the bottom of this post.

It seems the ‘obligation’ to adopt all EU legislation relating to the single market is nothing of the sort and the EFTA countries continue to enjoy autonomy, much to the chagrin of the EU.  It is worth noting that Switzerland comes in for a hammering in the assessment from the Council, for having the temerity to act in its own interests and not adopt evolving EU law and the various mechanisms (surveillance, judicial control and dispute settlement) that the EU says guarantee “homogeneous interpretation and application” of the internal market rules in the EU.

That being the case and the fact the UK was party to the drafting of the Council assessment, it demonstrates ever more clearly the deceitful nature of Cameron’s false assertions.  Perhaps Cameron’s quote would be accurate if he had said; ‘basically the EU wants EFTA countries to obey all the rules of the single market they have had a hand in shaping, but they can and do sometimes refuse to adopt them leaving the 27 reduced to threatening, cajoling and bullying in the hope they finally cave in’.

Full Text of article

Good marks for EEA, bad marks for Berne
By Tanguy Verhoosel | Tuesday 18 December 2012

Liechtenstein: good. Norway and Iceland: average. Switzerland: unsatisfactory.

These are the very contrasting marks the 27 will be giving to the four European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA) countries, on 20 December (1). Every two years, the Council assesses relations between the EU and the EFTA states. The three – Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland – that are members of the European Economic Area (EEA) earn the highest marks.

The EEA agreement “has proven to be effective and in the interest of all,” state the draft conclusions by the 27, which nevertheless regret that Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland have not yet incorporated into their national laws a “large number” of legal acts adopted in the EU. The homogeneity of the internal market and its “credibility” depend on their doing so, notes the text.

Individually, the Union praises Liechtenstein, whose “political determination” and “significant administrative efforts” are seen as exemplary. The principality can be considered a “reference” for other countries of small territorial size – Andorra, San Marino and Monaco – with which the Union wishes to intensify its relations.

CRITICISMS OF ICELAND
The 27 particularly applaud the steps taken by Vaduz to step up the fight against tax fraud and evasion. The spirit of “solidarity” shown by the people of Liechtenstein through their financial support for new EU member states to 2014 is also appreciated.

The compliment is also valid for Norway and Iceland, which nonetheless receive lower marks than Liechtenstein.
Norway and the EU have developed successful cooperation in recent years in a number of sectors – Norway’s contribution of more than €7 billion to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the context of the economic crisis, police and judicial cooperation, foreign and security policy, fisheries and energy – note the EU conclusions.

On trade, however, the Council “regrets” that Norway has decided to make use of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) dispute settlement proceedings against EU measures on trade in seal products and that it has raised customs duties on certain agricultural products.

Certain criticisms are also addressed to Iceland, held at least partially responsible for the failed negotiations with the EU on joint management of mackerel stocks.

The Council applauds Reykjavik’s measures to stabilise its economy following the bank sector crash in 2008. However, it notes “remaining weaknesses” in the financial services sector and adds that certain economic issues, including capital controls, still need to be addressed.

SWITZERLAND: STALEMATE
The biggest problem for the EU is Switzerland (see Europolitics 4534 and 4548).
The 27 reiterate their determination to develop their relations with Switzerland. However, the negotiations launched by the two partners on further Swiss participation in the internal market “have been marked by a stalemate” for years and are not likely to advance until the institutional issues highlighted by the Union since 2008 have been “solved”. These concern adaptation of agreements with Switzerland to evolving EU law and the introduction of various mechanisms (surveillance, judicial control and dispute settlement) to guarantee “homogeneous interpretation and application” of the internal market rules in the EU.

Switzerland presented proposals in this respect in June, but Berne needs to take “further steps” to achieve this objective, from which the EU will not turn away. Switzerland is not engaging solely in a bilateral relationship with the Union; it has become a “participant in a multilateral project”.

For the 27, this justifies the creation of a “legally binding mechanism” on incorporation of the acquisand “international mechanisms” for surveillance and judicial control, similar to what exists in the EEA.

“Exploratory discussions” in this context will continue – Swiss State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Yves Rossier is expected in Brussels on 29 January 2013 – before the possible opening of formal negotiations.

The 27 also denounce certain Swiss measures “that are not compatible with the provisions and the spirit” of the agreement on the free movement of persons. They urge Switzerland, among other things, to reconsider its decision to limit access to its labour market for nationals of Central and Eastern European EU member states.

On business taxation, the Union remains “deeply concerned” about certain canton-level tax regimes (favourable to holding companies, domiciliary companies and joint enterprises) that create “an unacceptable distortion of competition” in Europe. The Council calls for their “abolition”.

Although “progress” has been made in the ongoing “dialogue” between the Commission and Berne, the conclusions state that Switzerland remains reluctant to take all the EU’s concerns, which also relate to certain federal tax regimes, into account.

Foreign policy represents another point of friction.

The 27 welcome Switzerland’s participation in several EU missions, but regret that it has not “fully aligned itself” with EU sanctions against Iran. Reading between the lines, the Council suggest that its refusal to impose an embargo on Iranian oil products dictated first and foremost by its determination to protect the many trading companies based in Geneva.

The 27 also highlight the need for an additional Swiss financial contribution to the reduction of economic and social disparities in the Union. This is only fair since Switzerland has been granted access to this “enlarged internal market”.
To date, Berne has contributed around €1 billion to the ten Cental and Eastern countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007. The Council “reaffirms” its expectation that “this expression of solidarity, which underpins the relations between the EU and Switzerland, will be extended” to Croatia, as a start. The Commission has been given negotiating directives in this framework.

The Union remains “deeply concerned” about certain canton-level tax regimes in Switzerland

(1) The draft conclusions are available at http://www.europolitics.info > Search = 327164

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4 Responses to “More evidence that Cameron lied about Norway and Switzerland”


  1. 1 JAMES COOPER 06/01/2013 at 5:06 pm

    the mystery surrounding the laws relating to in or out of the .E.U. are just that a mystery, why because to make them clear would help decide if you want in or out. one thing we must remember its took 40 years and we still have not got a common market. but can get numerous votes on in out if the vote is out, but if its in no more voting its called communism . like democracy, where you can vote for what ever communist party you want

  2. 2 Andy Baxter 06/01/2013 at 7:39 pm

    well done AM….great stuff…lets keep it up…. :-)

  3. 3 WittringsfromWitney 06/01/2013 at 7:43 pm

    ABs comment seconded! The bit about being a party to the drafting is a killer!


  1. 1 Norway to EU: “Ingen” « Autonomous Mind Trackback on 08/01/2013 at 10:51 am
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