The truth that Mats Persson and Open Europe don’t want you to know

The claim that Norway has to put up with EU regulation without representation, and has no influence over what it must implement to be part of the single market (so called ‘fax democracy’) is a lie.  There is no other way to put it.

The fact is Norway has more influence over EU regulation than every EU member state.  Norway also has a veto over EU law so it does not have to follow the EU line.  Norway also pays substantially less to the EU for single market access than it would pay to the EU for being a member state.  Facts such as these are not just drawn from documentary evidence, they have also been established by speaking to ministerial level politicians in Norway who are best placed to understand exactly how access to the single market, without being an EU member state, impacts Norway.

These facts have been repeatedly shared indirectly and directly to Mats Persson of Open Europe – a ‘think tank’ that claims to be Eurosceptic, but which doggedly works to keep the UK firmly stuck in the EU – in order that he may correct his inaccurate claims.  Despite this, Persson continues to repeat the lie time and again, using his platforms on the Open Europe site and the Telegraph’s Blogs section.  The only conclusion that can be drawn is that Mats Persson is determined to deceive people in order to further his agenda of keeping the UK in the EU.

But knowingly repeating a falsifiable lie in the media in such a manner, to deliberately deceive readers, surely cannot be acceptable.  Therefore, my friend The Boiling Frog has submitted a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission, outlining the truths that Mats Persson deliberately seeks to conceal from people as part of his deceitful campaign.  The text of the complaint is shown below – and all readers are invited to share it and its contents widely in the media and on other blogs.  Please also feel free to reproduce the information below to submit your own complaint about Persson’s falsehoods, so that the PCC takes notice.


Dear Sirs

I’m writing to you wishing to draw your attention to an article on the Daily Telegraph website by Mats Persson Director of the think tank Open Europe. He writes about the important issue of the UK’s membership of the European Union – more specifically in this case the possible method of leaving. The website URL in question is below:

My reason for contacting the Press Complaints Commission is that I have deep concerns that much of the article is incorrect and factually wrong. In particular I wish to highlight this paragraph regarding the debate about the UK’s role in the EU:

“If only it was that simple. There’s no good off-the-peg model that the UK can simply adopt should it leave the EU. The Norwegian (“regulation without representation)…”

Persson’s dismissal of the Norway option (“regulation without representation”) has been repeated before despite being corrected personally to Persson himself and in the comments (url below)

Mats Persson’s argument relies heavily on the false doctrine that Norway has “no influence” in making EU law. However this is simply factually untrue, Norway has more influence than the UK regarding Single Market rules as illustrated below:

A) Many of Single Market laws are made at an international level for example the WTO – Norway gets to represent itself while the UK has only 8% influence with the EU which represents us on our behalf.

B) Norway is also on over 200 EEA (Single Market) committees which influence EU law from the outset –Anne Tvinnereim, former State Secretary for the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development in Norway for example said this: “we do get to influence the position”.

C) Norway can then contest that laws don’t apply to their EEA agreement – currently they have over 1,200 in dispute.

D) Ultimately Norway can veto any EU legislation, as they did with the 3rd EU Postal Directive while the UK had no choice but to implement it by the 2011 Postal Services Act.

Another inaccurate assertion by Mats Persson in the same article is:

“Under Article 50 [of the Lisbon Treaty] and in continuity deals, France, the European Parliament and others could consistently block market access for the UK’s exporters of IT, insurance, banking and other services.”

The Lisbon Treaty and Article 50 is covered by international law, notably by Article 54 of the Vienna Convention on the Law on Treaties, for the EU – an international organisation – to block market access would be in fundamental breach of international law. The EU would be obliged to adhere by its international Treaty agreements.

The UK’s membership of the EU is clearly a very important topic of debate and regardless of various views of our membership rigorous but accurate debate in our media is essential. The Press Complaints Commission confirms on its website it considers that accuracy of the press is of utmost importance:

1 Accuracy

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published. In cases involving the Commission, prominence should be agreed with the PCC in advance.

iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

iv) A publication must report fairly and accurately the outcome of an action for defamation to which it has been a party, unless an agreed settlement states otherwise, or an agreed statement is published.

The issue of the UK’s membership of the EU has clearly taken a more prominent role in UK politics, signified by David Cameron’s promise of a referendum in 2017 (if he were to win the 2015 election) and the current debates between Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg. Thus it’s imperative that the public are accurately informed. In this spirit we note the Press Complaint Commission’s conclusion with an untrue story about EU rules on eggs in 2010:

With this in mind I wish to formally complain that Mats Persson’s article breaches the code of conduct of accuracy – it is misleading and is an attempt to severely distract readers of a very popular newspaper from forming a proper and considered opinion.

Yours faithfully

9 Responses to “The truth that Mats Persson and Open Europe don’t want you to know”

  1. 1 pogo 05/04/2014 at 10:30 am

    This needs to go mainstream.The drones need to be woken up.

  2. 2 erek Buxton 05/04/2014 at 11:04 am

    This is of course, the way the EU began its evil rise to power. They knew from the start that Countries like ours would never, ever submit to foreign, unaccountable rule. So they bought our politicians and the deceit and lying began…..and continues to this day.

  3. 4 magwitch 05/04/2014 at 12:16 pm

    Bravo TBF! Be interesting to see what the PCC do about it.

  4. 5 Vanessa 05/04/2014 at 12:49 pm

    Thank you TBF. This needs to go “viral”. It is disgusting the lies are never addressed.

  5. 6 Geopark 05/04/2014 at 2:47 pm

    This has taught me a lesson. I let them off the hook because of weary cynicism. Big mistake. If they don’t fool you with their lies, they rely on apathy to keep you off their backs.

    Ps: I’m commenting here thanks to a post over at EUref. A big thank you to Richard North (& yourself & TBF & your other contributors – the positive ones!!!).

  6. 7 Lost Leonardo 05/04/2014 at 4:09 pm

    So, the Norway option actually allows Britain to have more influence over Single Market regulation than any EU Member State. Ha! Thanks for laying the situation out so clearly.

  7. 8 Trev 14/04/2014 at 12:55 pm

    Its a plausible argument to say we can be in the EEA not the EU. But we would still obey EU single market rules and still be paying into EU funds – and it would be a not inconsiderable sum. And we would still be obeying free movement of labour rules.
    The basis of your argument seems to be that being out of the EU is not much different to being ion. I would agree with that – so i wonder about the nut headed policies designed to undermine the tories in favour of a pro EU Labour party.

  8. 9 Autonomous Mind 18/04/2014 at 11:35 am

    Trev, we obey the rules of every country and market we export to. We don’t, however, have them set our laws, override the decisions of our courts, hoover up our money in governance contributions, dictate our foreign policy and determine our trading arrangements.

    Taking Norway as an example, the sum it pays into the EU is a fraction of what it would be if they were full members. The sum we would pay to the EU if we were outside the political bloc, would be a fraction of what we pay today.

    The basis of my argument is that Britons should determine the laws of the UK, not bureaucrats and politicians from overseas. The argument is one of self determination, therefore political, not economic. Despite that there are economic benefits that could be realised if the UK was free to set its own commercial course rather than have it dictated to us by the EU – so I wonder about your comment in support of a Tory party that is hell bent on keeping us under the control of Brussels.

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