Coffee House

A new EU membership for Britain: second-class or sensible?

31 December 2012

Becoming a ‘second-class’ member of the European Union doesn’t sound awfully appealing on first glance at today’s Times story.

But the ‘associate membership’ being considered by the Union of European Federalists would see Britain remain in the single market but lose its commissioner in Brussels and eventually its MEPs, too. Those drawing up this version of the new treaty also envisage that there would continue to be a seat at the Court of Justice for Britain.


The big question for the eurosceptics I’ve spoken to this morning is whether Britain could have what one Tory MP described as a common market, rather than single market agreement, whereby it abides by EU trade regulations when doing business with France, for example, but is not subject to those regulations when manufacturing goods for trade with the US or China. If this were not possible, the fear is that the ‘associate’ membership really would be second-class: a Norway-style arrangement where Britain is still subject to legislation from Brussels without having any say in its development.

Mark Pritchard says:

‘The UK should be free to trade with Europe but not shackled by the strictures and myriad of regulations of the single market. Remaining with a single market would on the surface look attractive, but in reality would do little to repatriate commercial and business sovereignty and improve the UK’s own competitiveness.

‘The UK needs to be free to be part of ‘a’ single global market, not ‘the’ single EU market. The single market is increasingly uncompetitive, runs exceptionally high unit costs, and is being driven down a unsustainable ‘business pays for all’ model. It is still possible to trade with Europe without being hamstrung by the single market. David Cameron’s speech is unlikely to satisfy Eurosceptic voters if he just offers political phantoms; something they will see straight through.’

Meanwhile, Douglas Carswell says he doesn’t ‘think there’s anything second tier or second class’ about a common market proposal.

What is significant about this is that, in spite of many, many toys flying out of many prams over the past week, there are those in Europe – like Jacques Delors – who realise the peril of a Brexit, and who want to draw up plans to avoid that. As I blogged last week, their fear of Britain leaving the EU should make David Cameron confident as he puts the finishing touches to his Europe speech that he can take a robust line in negotiations with Brussels.

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  • global city

    Second class just means that the writer has fallen for the propeganda. It is like those silly bastards who repeat the ‘miss the train’ mantra, without actually bothering to check what is on the destination board.

  • paulus

    Thank God we have your say so Isabel, at one stage I was shaking in my boots about how we could approach this vexed and thorny issue. I like many others will now be at rest.

  • pauldanon

    Two-tier membership would entail the reinvention of the EU as a body without the central objective of ever-closer union. This would need a new treaty and there’d be ample reason for nations that were keen on the union’s current prime purpose to exercise their veto.

  • eeliestruth

    We need a straight in/out nothing else will do.

  • eeliestruth

    We just need an basic in/out nothing else will do. As the only party giving this assurance, my vote goes ot UKIP. I don’t believe a word of what Cameron will say, and I know I am not the only one. He will make a deal in our name, and sell us a pup. No thank you. Vote UKIP

  • viewcode

    Um, I hate to point this out, but there is something the author of the article and the below-the-line commentators have misunderstood. The phrase “privileged partnership” (like “enhanced cooperation”) has a specific meaning in a EU context. It isn’t a “special” or “associate” membership of the EU, it’s “instead of”. Offering “privileged partnership” to a country is what you do when you *don’t* want them to join the EU (see Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco et al).

    Delors wasn’t trying to keep UK in the EU.
    He is trying to throw you out.

  • ShoeOnHead

    i would take it a step further and make sure london is free to be part of ‘any’ single global market. we need to explore the annexation of london from the rest of the country and EU in a urban secession movement. london behaves like a City-state (global spike) it might as well be one with full sovereignty like singapore. globalisation is the predominant 21st century force and nimble, small government city-states are the future. londoner’s would embrace the idea.

    (shoe on head)

  • Remittance Man

    My concern over this, even if it does come to pass, is, while it appears to offer all that the eurosceptics want, it also leaves a wide open door for some future government to slip Britain back into the eu superstate, probably without even the opt outs and minimal independence the country currently has.

    Like socialists, the eurocrats play the long game; their objective is a federal superstate over the entire continent, including Great Britain. Britain opposes this and is making noises about loosening the ties or even leaving altogether. This would be a disaster in their eyes but is probably inevitable. Therefore they are looking for a way to minimise the danger and make any “losses” temporary.

    The only real solution is complete divorce.

  • Jimmy R

    The EUSSR lovers and more especially the fanatical Federalists amuse me with their threats and fantasy scare stories. Does anybody want to tell Canada that unless they subjugate themselves into the United States of America they will be cast out into the cold, their economy will collapse, their trade will dry up and the whole wide world will either ignore them or run roughshod over them? Does anybody want to tell the same story to South Korea about being a tiny country who must hand power over them to their neighbour China on a similar scare story to the nonsense about Canada? If people look around the world I’m sure they could find other similar examples where the same ridiculously false assertions could be made.

    The truth is that the EUSSR needs us far more than we need them. We are one of the big contributers who pay far more in than we get out. The EUSSR are terrified of losing that money because it means the other small number of big payers, especially Germany, will have to fork out even more to keep the Grande Project afloat, a lot more.
    When it comes to our trade with the EUSSR we actually have a deficit, in other words they sell more to us than we sell to them. Again, keeping us shackled to the EUSSR is more to their benefit than it is to ours and they want to keep it that way. Add to that the sneaky trick of claiming the parts of our trade which passes through places like Rotterdam for onward transport to customers in the rest of the world is our selling products to the EUSSR. It’s like claiming a tourist travelling from Carlisle to London who simply changes trains in Birmingham is actually a tourist visiting Birmingham as a destination. Still, the EUSSR is brilliant at iddling figures, that’s why the auditors have refused to sign their budgets off for over fourteen years.

    • HooksLaw

      You are willing to bet the UK economy and millions of jobs on your prejudice? Ask the car workers in Sunderland and their families and all the component workers and dealers and their families if they believe you.

      • Wessex Man

        and the 50% unemployed in Spain, are you willing to gamble their futures? or the people in Greece giving their children away, are you willing to gamble their futures?

        Time to grow up HooksLaw.

      • Rhoda Klapp

        If ‘they ‘ want us to buy their BMWs and Mercedes and Volkswagens, they will need to leave open the door for our Hondas and Nissans. Which you have been told many times over the past months, and yet you can neither refute it nor it seems concede it.

        (A lot of cars do not come from where you think. It does not matter if the Honda is from Swindon or the VW from South Africa. That’s world trade.)

      • TomTom

        Nissan belongs to Renault so no problem there…..I don’t want to see more Opel jobs disappear – but production is being moved to Peugeot from Ruesselsheim so maybe the facts of life are clear in a global market even to car workers. Turkey is getting van production from Spain and VW is talking of producing a car <£8000 made in Romania or elsewhere……

      • Derek

        Yes, ask them – ask us all – in a REFERENDUM, you Coalition shill!

    • MacTurk

      Face facts, please.Your assertion that “The truth is that the EUSSR needs us far more than we need them” is manifest nonsense. Losing one of the Big Five states would be a moral blow, yes, but the EU will not collapse over the departure of the UK.

      The huge amount of money you are talking about is the British contribution to the EU’s budget, which in itself is less than 1.3% of the EU’s GDP. The sum of money, after rebate, is about €9bn/annum

      First, that amount of money will be made up by the other member states with no
      trouble at all. It is the equivalent of loose change down the back of the sofa, in terms of the EU’s economic output. Second, it is equivalent to about 0.6 cent of British GDP. Your Ministry of Defence has wasted far, far more than that, with far less to show for it….

      Oh, and Canada’s economy is very, very, much integrated with that of its huge southern neighbour. The USA accounts for about 73% of Canadian exports and 63% of Canadian imports as of 2009. If it came to a serious argument with the USA, given those facts, the Canadian economy would collapse, and very quickly.

      • Jimmy R

        Check the EU contributions by country 2011 on the web. Britain
        is the second largest net contributor after Germany, who pay over six billion euros. Britain is second paying about three and a half billion euros (and that includes the rebate, it would be more without that). Third, Netherlands, two and a half billion. Fourth, France, two billions, Fifth, Italy, paying around one and a third billion euros, but with Italy not far behind Greece with it’s budget problems how long that will last is anybody’s guess.

        Oh, and I’m not suggesting for one minute that the EUSSR would collapse without us being a member but it would put considerable strain on Germany, who would be the country left making up the largest proportion of the shortfall, the equivalent of that of France and Italy combined.

        As for Canada, you make my point admirably. Their trade with the US
        is enormous and very beneficial, but do pray tell, MacTurk, how many Canadians sit in the Senate and how many sit in the House of Representatives in Washington? Can you name me one Canadian, past or present, who was elected to either to represent Canada?

        Yet that doesn’t seem to create any trade problems between the two countries and neither does the much larger US insist on imposing countless Directives on Canada ordering it how to conduct it’s affairs, including their mutual trade.

        • MacTurk

          My point was, and remains, that the EU budget itself is tiny,
          relative to the economic output of the EU. It is less than 1.3%. The
          Irish state takes more than 33% of the Irish GDP, while the figure for
          Britain is around 47% .

          There will be no problem making up for the lack of the British
          contribution. Especially as your figure is about of the generally accepted figure……

          In the broad scheme of things, it is petty cash, nothing

          It would put no noticeable strain on Germany, especially compared to the torrents of money spent on the integration of the former East Germany. The current German GDP is over 2500 BILLION Euros(2011 figures), well above British figures, and the expected growth rate is about 1%(estimate). The share of the economy accounted by state spending is currently running at 43.7%, which is higher than the normal, but this can be expected in a recession, as unemployment spending goes up.

          The fact still is that your assertion that “The truth is that the EUSSR needs us far more than we need them” is manifest nonsense.

          You will find that the Canadians have had to adapt to US standards, not the other way around. This extends even to the Canadian Armed Forces, which have had to adapt their force structure and their hardware, to be compatible with US forces..

          Any honest examination of the facts would point out that both Canadians, and successive Canadians, have had, and continue to have, serious issues with some of the implications of NAFTA. THe unilateral imposition of a 27% import tax on Canadian softwood exports remains a source of serious concern. As does the refusal of the USA to abide by the rulings of NAFTA panels on this issue. There are ongoing concerns in Canada about the continued encroachment of both US companies(who have taken over thousands of Canadian companies) and US law, on foot of various legal actions taken by US citizens and companies. Chapters 11 and 19 of the NAFTA Treaty are of particular concern.

  • Fergus Pickering

    What would we get from this membership and what would we pay for it? Would we get our fish back? Second-class is just a word. And NOT having MEPs is a definite gain, since we can turn off all these fat useless tubs of lard and stop PAYING them. Tell us more.

  • viropo

    A Fabian Socialist gradualism agenda to establish a New World Order against the democratic will of the people. Why did millions of Europeans suffer & die in 2 world wars to prevent this very thing from happening? ‘Totalitarism’ wether Facist or Communist, all take away the individual freedom of their people! I’d rather be poor & free than be a slave to these unelected Eurocrats. It’s time to leave while we still can & be a beacon to other Europeans who feel the same way about their freedom.

    • MacTurk

      There are many reasons for the many wars in the first half of the 20th Century. However, it is safe to say that it was NOT the EU that made “millions of Europeans suffer & die in 2 world wars to prevent this from happening”.

      The First World War was never, before or after, presented as either anti-Fascist, or anti-Communist, mainly because both types of regimes did not exist until after 1925 – in Italy under Mussolini. Hitler only got into power in 1933.

      The Second World War was never, and is never, presented as an exercise in anti-Communism, mainly because the Soviet Union was on the winning side. It was not presented as an anti-Fascist struggle until the latter half of the war. It should be pointed out that the vast majority of the casualties suffered by the Allies were suffered by the Red Army, and the people of the Soviet Union. Their suffering was immense, and the number of dead was in excess of 20 million. I am specifically excluding the victims of Stalin’s atrocities from this. Of all Wehrmacht deaths, 90% were on the Eastern Front.

      And the EU is neither Fascist nor Communist. Most Europeans do not share your fantasies. Most view the EU as a major improvement on what went before, and this is especially true of the new eight entrants from the ex-Soviet bloc, who are capable, from bitter historical experience, of knowing exactly what both Fascism and Communism are about, having lived under various strains of both. They laugh at your idiotic characterizations of “The EUSSR”, and the like.

      You will not be a beacon to anyone, just an ex-imperial power, drifting off into irrelevance and oblivion in the mid-Atlantic.

      And I should point out that the other part of your beloved “Special Relationship” has made it crystal clear that the USA sees Britain’s role, as an ally, as relevant mainly because it is a member of the EU.

  • Daniel Maris

    What’s going on here? Not sure what, but you can be sure it isn’t an open and honest debate.

    I suspect the Euro Feds are trying to queer Cameron’s pitch…which was the pantomime about “renegotiating” our EU status…which presumably Cameron is looking to turn into a typical PR exercise where he dresses up an exercise in futility as something real and concrete.

    My guess is the Euro Feds are saying in effect: “Well if you are genuine Cameron, this is the best that you could hope for while retaining EU membership. However, we don’t think you’re genuine, we think you are just trying to wreck the EU railroad to Super-Europe. So we are putting this out now to make things as difficult for you as possible because we know we can stir up dissension in the Tory Party this way.”

  • ben corde

    This is what I’ve been saying for years. The Common market but no interference in our Commonwealth or Global trade. We are and never will be a subjugated state of a Federal Europe. How the hell did our politicians drag us into this quagmire of corruption, regulatory madness and the ECHR fiasco against our will. Has all the sacrifice of two world wars been forgotten? Why can’t you political commentators display a sense of outrage or even that you understand UK history. Trouble is you’ve no sense of what it means to be British. It makes me sick

    • HooksLaw

      The ECHR has nothing to do with the EU

    • MacTurk

      No one, in or outside the EU, is trying to interfere with your “..Commonwealth or Global trade”. In the same way, no one, in or outside the EU, is trying to interfere with Germany’s global trade.

      The only difference is that Germany is the world’s second biggest exporter, while Britain is steadily declining. Odd, that……

      You claim that “Trouble is you’ve no sense of what it means to be British”. Having read your mostly incoherent post, I am forced to the conclusion that being British, by your definition, means being both ignorant and very confused.

  • JoeThorpe1963

    We dont want a second class relationship with the EU we will be the European Unions biggest single export market, bigger than the US & Japan combined! If they want to trade with us they can do, if they want to put up trade barriers they can do but we will reciprocate & with the trade imbalance that exists between the UK & the EU we will be the winners!

  • Noa

    The true agenda of Lib-Dem MEP Andrew Duff, head of the Union of European Federalists, is to maintain the UK within the EU. His real agenda is clearly set forth in his lugubrious and phantasmagorical “Federal Union Now”.

    “…No British federalist can welcome the risk that a greater political
    gap may now arise between the UK and mainland Europe. But the
    greater prize in the longer term is the formation of a strong, stable
    and successful core at the heart of the European Union around
    which other states will in the end be bound to coalesce. One day,
    perhaps many years hence, when the UK is convinced of the
    success of federal union, and sees it working powerfully in world
    affairs, it is likely to change its mind and want to jump in…”

  • Literate Dude

    I love how almost all the British are Eurosceptic. It’s like it runs in your blood. Complaining about the EU and how much you pay (not taking into account what the EU has done for you the last 50 or so years) while Germany is the real contributor. But heck, if I lived on an overcrowded island with all its glory long gone I guess I’d be cranky too.

    • Colonel Mustard

      What has the EU done for us in the last 50 years (since 1962)? Come on, spell it out you transparent as hell limey hater.

      • Literate Dude

        Took you long enough. I’m sorry my statement of the exact day and time (note the sarcasm) Britain joined the EU was 10 years off (1973). Next time I wont use “50 years or so” as a guesstimation and look it up. My bad.

        What’s the point of it? I’d be unable to get anything into that indoctrinated mind of yours. It’s not like I’ll be able to steer you all off of your self-destructive course. With a that brain of yours listening to populistic propaganda from conservatives better fit in the 19th century, I’d have better luck persuading a brick wall.

        Don’t you find it funny that the only country that want out of the EU is Britain (note: only england)? And while you’re at it, Scotland is leaving the UK for the EU (just as Ireland). I find that pretty hilarious.

        • David B

          Ok so what has the EU done for us in the last 40 years?

          I think u will find other parts of the UK has a majority to leave the EU! Northern Ireland for one

          If the UK contribution is so small why all the bluster about the rebate!

          Think u need to check your history Republic of Ireland left the UK about 30 years before the EU was formed.

          • HooksLaw

            The UKs contribution is relatively small. ‘relatively’ because we are a big country and make appropriate contributions.

            But per head and as %age of income it is relatively small. Thanks to socialist Blair giving away part of our rebate our contributions will go up. Yet it is the avowed intent of UKIP to do all it can to see a return of a labour govt.

            As it is, Norway who are not in the EU would in effect be the 10th biggest contributor. Switzerland pay into the EU budget. Switzerland is in effect the same class of membership as norway and its position re treaties is not as strong as the ignorant maintain. The ‘bilateral approcach’ is severely restricted by the so-called, Guillotine Clause, giving both parties a right to cancellation of the entire body of treaties when one new treaty or stipulation cannot be made applicable in Switzerland.
            Most EU law applies universally throughout the EU, the EEA and
            Switzerland, providing most of the conditions of the free movement of people, goods, services and capital that apply to full member states.

            The arguments endlessly repeated here are based and total ignorance of reality and the differences professed as being major are in fact minor. It might be nice to be out of the EU but we would be the only major European country to be so. Ask yourself why and would that be wise? Certainly to be outside the tariff barrier as some think possible flies in the face of the desires of every major European country and a host of minor ones.

        • Havin a laugh

          When did Scotland and Northern Ireland leave the UK? The only thing that Europe has achieved is that the Rapist(Germany) has married the raped (France)….and how long will this marriage last. Not long IMO. To many divergent economies. Anyway why do u care if the UK leaves. Surely this will allow you federalist to pursue your dream without those pesky Brits pulling in the opposite direction. But wait didn’t a couple of other countries recently voice concerns?……..

          • Literate Dude

            Howdy! We meet yet again. Have you ever heard of the upcoming referendum on a Scottish Independence? No? Have you ever heard of the other part of Ireland… not that either? Oh. Well. I thought you were smarter than that. I must have been wrong. Sorry, I overestimated you.

            Well, I’ll be going now. It was fun provoking you lot. Remember to eat your vegetables and be objective when judging and you’ll do fine growing up mate. Happy new year!

            • Havin a laugh

              LD, the last time I checked the referendum is in a couple of years time and as yet r still part of the UK, please correct me if I am wrong. As for Southern Ireland as u r aware Ireland had a vote and the south decided to breakaway pre 2nd world war. Why does the North even now vote to go the same way? Also why do the majority of Scots not vote for the SMP they would not even need a referendum (natural and transparent).I am all for an open, democratic and a transparent organisation which the EU is not in its present form and is most likely not to be.
              Running away already and resorting to personal insults man up LD and argue your point! By the way happy new year.

        • Colonel Mustard

          So you have dodged the challenge of persuading me what the EU has done for us.


        • Fergus Pickering

          But almost very country wants out of the EU. Whenever the people are asked they want out Of course the rulers then get them to vote again until the get it right. I am leaving out all those Eastern European hell holes who have been bribed with our money to join.

          • HooksLaw

            The EU is ripe for change. Who knows what the new fiscal (ie political) union treaty will bring?
            One thing is clear we will not be in it. The EU will be changed forever.

            • None EU Citizen

              At last you accept that it needs change and that we will not be in it by the will of the British people and that it will go bust! You’ve woken up well done!

      • Derek

        Well, let me think…if I’m in Spain, I have the right to go to France for an excellent steak au poivre and frites without showing any proof of identity at the border. To die for!

    • cosmic

      Well you obviously don’t live on an overcrowded island with its glory long gone, so your speculations as to what motivates the inhabitants, and your notions of what the EU has done for us, are something which may be safely disregarded.

    • Noa

      Howdy? Strange greeting, too many Alan Ladd fillums methinks. Leaving aside the little old EU, diddums, how’s your fiscal cliffe doing?

    • Chris

      No the British public aren’t. A tiny minority of loons,who make an awful lot of noise, hate all foreigners. They can’t get elected. UKIP has zero members of parliament. That’s none. Not any.

    • Derek

      Yes, it’s like we value freedom and like liberty like. In fact, we are totally in favour of freedom, dude. We are going to, like. reduce the overcrowding which will, you know, like, increase the liberty likers like and decrease the slaves now here from various backward parts of the world who will, like, be drawn to the undercrowded EU as they will be,because we will pay inducements for them to like – bugger off.

      Why we might even go into an alliance with Germany too, when they like leave. We’d be cranky not to, dude. Innit?

  • Mike

    he problem with most Europhiles is that they are living in the past ; the fear of the past. I cannot see France and Germany going to war;they neither have the will or expertise and NATO still exists. The advances of technology and trade mean that the long term growth of the EU will be less than the BRICs with the exception of Germany.

    The UK contributes £10B to the EU and buys more than £65B than we sell to the EU.

    Large numbers of Spanish, French, Italians, Poles, and Greeks who cannot get jobs in their own countries work in the UK. If the civil servants and politicians want to play rough with the UK , then there options are limited as all counties are within the WTO. If we left the EU would could impose work visa regulations on foreigners .I am sure British unemployed would like less competition for jobs. It would also enable Britain to reduce our welfare payments.

    A main reason Britain joined the EU was indutrial decline because the unions pushed up labour costs due to overmanning, strikes and prevented the introduction of new technology. 1n 1968, B Castle’s s ” In Place of strife ” was an attempt to reduce strikes but was opposed by J Callaghan. Post 1945 , many of our craftsmen, engineers and scientistst went to work overseas. Our withdrawal from Emprire badly damaged our cotton industry in Lancashire because we no longe rhad automatic entry for our products to the Indian sub-continent . The creation of the WTO means that trade is different to the 1950s. As D Tang has said, if goods and services are produced at price people are willing to pay, they will be bought.

    Britain has the advantage of the Greenwich Meridan, The English Languages, good contracts and an a trusted legal system, advanced science and engineering. Some of the most advanced and productive of Toyota’s production lines are in the UK.

    Many people in The Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Finland , Denmark, Austria and The Czech Republic want to pay less and a diminished role for the EU and are quite happy to allow the UK to make the argument and take the criticism. It is time we asked for support from them because if we leave, then they will have to take up the financial burden and those EU nationals working here may want to work in their countries making it more difficult for their unemployed.
    Leaving the EU would cause problems but not insoluble ones. In fact unless the EU rapidly becomes more productive and less expensive then it is likley to continue to lose out to the BRIC nations but also Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Mexico, Canada , Australia and USA. Only high value goods and services do not have competition from outside the EU and only Germany has a high value manufacturing economy: much of France’s is low to medium value. The high value French, fashion and wine industries are small parts of the French economy. Unless the EU copies Germany and becomes a high value producer and greatly reduces labour costs ( France is 10% more expensive than Germany ) the future is grim.

    • MacTurk

      You claim that “Many people in The Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Austria and The Czech Republic want to pay less and a diminished role for the EU and are quite happy to allow the UK to make the argument and take the criticism. It is time we asked for support from them…”.

      First, where is the evidence for this?

      And second, you have no real allies in the EU. This has become quite evident over the last year or so. Those who would be your natural allies, countries like Finland, Poland, etc, have given up, precisely because the British approach is to stand on the sidelines and sneer, or threaten to leave, while offering no real alternative vision. It became totally obvious during the Cameron veto debacle, where it came down to 26 against one.

      The other reason why there is no chance of Britain becoming the leader of any movement within the EU is that the other countries, while differing on tactics and/or timing, are actually committed to the project, in a way that no-one in Britain either understands, or wants to understand. The vast majority of non-Euro states are not interested in what Britain has to say, because they are all committed to joining the Single Currency, and their main concern is to get access and influence to the Eurozone councils. Britain has nothing to offer here. Or, to be honest, in any other European policy area.

      Your comments about the need for EU states to climb the value-added ladder are very true. They are equally applicable to Britain, at the moment. After the departure of most of the banking and financial sector(almost totally foreign-owned) from the UK in the aftermath of a Brixit, and the winding down of most of the car manufacturing sector(almost totally foreign owned), the need for Britain to get on the value-added ladder will become even more pressing, I should think…

  • Rhoda Klapp

    Are prisoners on day release considered second class compared to those who are confined?

  • Gerry Boy

    I do love the myopia of the British Eurosceptic – which is philosophically a completely coherent position.

    Not one person in these comments has made the connection between UK EU membership and the continuation of the UK. Both are about political unions, sovereignty and how the British political classes see these.

    Basically UK exit from the EU or ‘second class’ membership makes it more likely that the union that is the UK will end in its present form. The subjects of Scottish independence/self-government and the nature of the UK and the fixation of part of our political classes with an out-dated version of sovereignty, all influence each other.

    So have your debates; believe that the UK can be this offshore ‘global kingdom’ and you will shortly find yourself living in a shrunken geo-political FCUK (Former Country known as the United Kingdom), while an independent Scotland is at the heart of Europe celebrated by French and German political elites who have lost patience with the British. Bring it on!

    • fubar_saunders

      Maybe so. If thats what the populace of Scotland want, that is what they will vote for, that is what they will get, for better or for worse. Its entirely up to them. Whether the former UK ends up being England, Wales and NI, or whether it just ends up as England… the public wants what the public gets, as Paul Weller once said. I’d be very happy to wish the Scots, the Welsh and NI the very best of luck if they want to go it alone and join the EU. In each case, it will result in significant political change in England and the events that would spin off from that are too far away to be realised yet, both the intended and non intended consequences.

      Im not sure to be honest that a lot of the English are as irrevocably wedded to the concept of the Union as you may think. Indeed, a not insignificant amount of rumbling has asked why the English are not being given an option to express their own thoughts on Scotland’s referendum. But, for the sopping wet main political parties, giving the populace the option of throwing Scotland out of the union, as against flouncing off of its own accord is anathema and would never happen.

      We shall see what happens in 2014 eitherway. Having lived in Scotland for 8 years, I would be more than happy for them to stay, but if they really want to go, I’m not going to beg them. Personally, I think they’ll find themselves much worse off within a generation, but none of us know how it will actually pan out. Definitely a big gamble though.

      • Fergus Pickering

        If that is what the populace of Scotland want? But they don’t want, do they? They are not stupid.Two to one against at the last count.

    • cosmic

      Errr, you can’t have an independent Scotland within the EU, all you have is another province and a small and weak one at that.

      • Stuart Eels

        and he’s either not heard that an independent Scotland would have to apply to join the EU or is ignoring it to annoy.

        I will never understand why Scotland wishes to leave one “Union” but stay in another, frightened probably.

    • Coffeehousewall

      Thanks for brightening my day with a hearty laugh. I can only imagine that you are an English troll posing as a Scot, as not even a Scot could be so stupid as to believe that Scotland would count for anything in the EU.

    • Literate Dude

      I’m rather surprised I found someone here with a mind of his own. Many acts as sheep and swallows everything their dear populistic politicians feeds them with. I’m seriously concerned with the way a western European country is heading. Learn to look things up and don’t fall into the pits of created by misinformation.

      • Havin a laugh

        This makes no sense literate dude as your own text can be attributed to either argument? We have three main parties (Forget UKIP) in the UK all of which want to stay in Europe(so are most people in the UK in favour of pulling out?), apart from the nationalists that who want to have self determination by giving up their sovereignty to a undemocratic Europe.

      • Havin a laugh

        Com’on Literate Dude. Give us “What Europe have done for us…” speech. I will start. 1.Eurovision

        • Literate Dude

          Then I’ll continue. 2. Visa free travel. Seriously, though, Having a laugh (I like your name, btw) I don’t really care to give you such a speech. I merely branded most of the comments on this site “eusceptic” with mostly one-sided comments on the EU.

          I doubt populistic politicians befalls every single one of them. But I also doubt every party during the election with Hitler was nazi either, see my point? People follow whoever has the most convenient answer to their problems. Doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong.
          Example: The UK has budget problems? Clearly thay’s the work of the EU.

          Also, I did not paint the EU in goldenclad angel wings with a gloria over it. You may think whatever you want of the EU, I don’t mind. But don’t spew hatred over something when you clearly don’t know all sides to it. It makes you look dumb and illiterate.

          • Dimoto

            Eurosceptic means exactly what it says.

            It covers a wide range of views, from those who think we should join the Euro but are nevertheless sceptical, to those who want exit from the EU.

            With the evidence to hand, any European who is NOT sceptical about the Euro travesty should really be sectioned. Even Schaeuble has expressed scepticism.
            We (still) have an active democracy, and people will pipe up, unlike so many Euro citizens.
            When Cameron used his famous veto, I was in Holland with a group of Dutchmen. Many of them told me they would love their government to do the same, but they couldn’t because they were so dependent on Germany.
            You say the Brit eurosceptics are “sheep”, what does that make the mass of compliant, abused, Euro-citizenry ?

  • TomTom

    Britain does not automatically have an EU Commissioner since Lisbon anyway. Just look at the EU Commissions latest ideas – Regulation of Shower Heads and Taps to impose water conservation; an Energy Commissioner Oettinger who wants Welfare Benefits indexed to utility prices. No doubt an extra levy on the working population to ensure those who don;t work can afford what those working cannot. The term “second class” is so upsetting that i am glad I can travel “Standard Class” on the railways instead………must be lovely to be “first class” in Germany and paying taxes so the rich in Greece and Spain don’t have to.

    • JoeThorpe1963

      We need bigger taps to get rid of the water!

    • HooksLaw

      Oettinger disapproves of green energy subsidies. Indeed he is appalled at the prices rises for German electricity consumers. As the consumers themselves seem to be.

      The above article shows what a mess the German energy market is in and I think its overpriced nature is reflected in Oettinger’s remarks.

      Ironically you might agree with him.

      • TomTom

        German electric utilities own Npower and E-On in the UK but the British Government finds them fine…… Germany has high priced electricity because of Government policy which is similar to the UK. E-On and RWE simply live within the regulatory system.

    • MacTurk

      You still automatically have A Commisioner. You lost, along with the other larger states, your Two EU Commissioners.

  • RKing

    Isabel – It’s only January the 1st not April…..

    ………….you nearly fooled us!!!!

    • David Ossitt

      It is the 31st of December but then what difference does is a day make.

  • David Ossitt

    We should never have joined, as a people we were lied to at the very start and we have been lied to ever since.

    That it is a corrupt anti-democratic structure is self evident, I truly believe that it is a force for bad (evil) the whole construct is based on flawed arguments and lies, and the only reason for it now to continue is to keep in employment all of those over paid parasitic politicians and bureaucrats that it has spawned.

    Edward Heath’s body should be disinterred and his remains should stand trial for treason.

    • Austin Barry

      If the rumours on the web have any credibility, Edward Heath would also be indicted on rather more mundane if equally repellent counts.

      • ArchiePonsonby

        Well said that man!

        • Stuart Eels

          If you can remember the 1970s you weren’t there, unfortunately I was and I was one of the minority that voted to get out, unfortunately that’s what we were a minority. The general population was lied to not just by Heath but politicians from across the board including the hero worshipped Maggie and the slippery Heseltine and Clarke.

          I’m just a little sad that it’s taken 40 years for the majority of the population to come around to the same point of view as myself.

          • ArchiePonsonby

            You must agree though, S E, that the veritable barrage of comments here and elsewhere for complete withdrawal is hugely heartening, and that is before you even consider the “I-told-you-so” factor!

            • Stuart Eels

              I don’t give a monkey’s about the “I told you so factor.” I just want my country’s freedom of choice back and I expect that so do most of Europe, funny how we never hear about the continual demonstrations outside of the EU Parliament, then again maybe not.

              • MacTurk

                Apart from the farmers, what “… continual demonstrations outside of the EU Parliament..” are you fantasising about?

                • Stuart Eels

                  EU personnel 08.11.12- European Trade Union day of action 14.11.12 that I know of personally and I’m told it is a near daily event by a very well paid EU interpreter, who also joined in, I’m sure she could give you a daily list but I’m just not that interested, so look it up yourself if you are that interested!

                • MacTurk

                  How can I put this?

                  One demonstration on November 8th, and another six days later does NOT, in any logical universe, constitute “… continual demonstrations outside of the EU Parliament..”.

                  Sporadic “… demonstrations outside of the EU Parliament..”, possibly.

                  Intermittent “… demonstrations outside of the EU Parliament..”, maybe.

                  Occasional “… demonstrations outside of the EU Parliament..”, would be allowable.

              • ArchiePonsonby

                As do we all! Why am I not surprised about the lack of reporting of those demonstrations? I hear that there are race riots every weekend in some of our Northern cities and we never hear of those, either.

          • Fergus Pickering

            I think Maggie may herself have been fooled, as I was. After all Henry Cooper told us it would be all right. Who would not believe a man like that. I do agree that Heath ought to be dug up and his head stuck on a spike. The same as with Gordon Brown, except he’s not dead yet. Oris he? How can you tell?

      • Noa

        There’s a few live ones need the Cromwell treatment first before we start savilling the undead.

  • William Blakes Ghost

    If this were not possible, the fear is that the ‘associate’ membership
    really would be second-class: a Norway-style arrangement where Britain
    is still subject to legislation from Brussels without having any say in
    its development.

    No self respecting Eurosceptic wants the Norwegian model (not that it is that bad ~ see Hannan’s comments on it on his blog). Most want the Swiss model. Hardman is just so out of touch with where Eurosceptics are ar. I suppose its because she’s trapped in a Westminster freakshow mentality.

    Oh well all we can do is keeping telling her until she gets it through her thick Westminster Freakshow skull.

    • alexsandr

      not sure the swiss model is any better…

    • ArchiePonsonby

      A Speccer jounalist; out of touch? Never!

    • MacTurk

      The Swiss model is not on offer, any more, even to the Swiss. It will definitely not be on the table, in the event of a UK exit.

      Please understand that if you leave, you will be in the position of a supplicant. You will not – repeat NOT – be in a position to be dictating terms.

      And given the level of exasperation towards Britain in most European councils, you would be lucky to be offered the ‘Norway Model’.

    • Derek

      Swiss model – yes, including the militia, please.

  • Wessex Man

    Amazing, marvellous, hear warming, all but one comment in total agreement that it’s time to get out of this pig’s ear of barren burlesque of the Old USSR, come all thee faithful, lets be brave and step out into the real world!

  • In2minds

    Chris, having things “forced” upon us for own own good, the
    politburo way of doing things and very typical of the EU. As for the
    jobs a large number of those have gone to immigrants who have been
    forced upon us. While at the same time youth unemployment is on the
    rise. As you say it’s beyond a joke.

  • Daniel Maris

    Why do you call Norway’s arrangement “second class”? Sounds pretty first class to me.

    Except there is the issue of immigration controls which needs to be addressed.

    • HooksLaw

      Norway has signed to Schengen. 20% of the Swiss population is immigrant.

      • Fergus Pickering

        But not black (aaaargh!) I think.

  • Boudicca_Icenii

    “Associate membership” seems to be a way to ensure that the UK continues paying a considerable sum to the EU, to waste on its self-aggrandisement and transfer to the parasite-nations in the EU.
    No thanks. Free, independent, Sovereign and OUT.

  • A Libertarian Rebel

    Politicos and hacks really don’t do their research, do they?

    While the idea of single market only EU semi-membership might sound attractive in theory, in practice the EU is adept at introducing all kinds of job-inhibiting regulation, “social protection” and bureaucratic meddling under the single market banner. And that would apply not merely to the 10% or so of UK economic activity that involves trading with the EU, but to all of it. The gain in practical terms over what we have now would be minimal.

    If all we want is an independent free trade agreement with the EU and nothing more, then we invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and give notification of withdrawal. The treaty obliges the EU to negotiate a trade agreement with any state exiting the EU.

    • HooksLaw

      You have no notion of what a free trade agreement means and what the depths of one entail.
      It would be little different from being IN the EU and the Eu counties would not cut their noses to spite their faces to accommodate the UK. But you will not admit it.

      • an ex-tory voter

        Nonsense, a free trade agreement would require us to meet EU regulations only on our exports to the EU. The remaining 60% of our global trading would remain unaffected by EU regulations and their consequent costs. Or are you suggesting all of the global trading carried out by nations exporting to the EU is required to be compliant with EU regulation. I somehow think that would be a surprise to the US, China, India Russia, Brazil etc etc. The WTO might also have something to say if the EU tried to impose it’s regulatory structure on all of the world’s trading nations.

        • David Julian Price

          Absolutely right. The EU represents around 15% of the world’s trade (and about 40% of our exports currently, but this is declining steadily), and just because we sold goods to Europe doesn’t mean we’d have to implement all the Euro legislation when selling goods to the other 85% of the world.

        • MacTurk

          The remaining 60% remains “…unaffected by EU regulations and their consequent costs” now.

      • TomTom

        NAFTA is a Free Trade Agreement

  • Michael990

    Associate membership? That is, we keep giving them our (borrowed) money but get even less back. No thank you.

  • ToryOAP

    If being second class means we can: trade with all countries without barriers, exclude EU citizens who just want our welfare, manage our own employment, financial and other legislation, kick out all undesirable criminals and terrorists, reduce our EU contributions and avoid having EU bollocks continually in the news than I am all for becoming a second class EU citizen. If it’s none of the above than let’s get the hell out before it all implodes anyway.

    • dalai guevara

      1- ‘trade with all countries’ – perhaps log on to and realise the rules of the game? You’ve gotta be in it to win it.

      2- ‘exclude EU citizens who want our welfare’ – is our welfare really that attractive, or is it the opportunity of bettering your situation? It always baffles me that people assume migration was triggered by a desire to sponge, rather than earn a decent wage.
      3- ‘manage our own employment’ – well, what do you think anyone in business is doing right now? Anyone in an employer’s role will employ…the best candidate available, irrespective of origin or skin tone. Are you the best candidate?
      4- ‘reduce our EU contributions’ – the DT has clarified that the annual bill for the EU is £60 net per head, hardly the budget for a night out or a ticket for a matchday event. Reducing the contribution will do absolutely nothing to our deficit or debt levels, other than confirming that we no longer occupy the top tier, but bottom tier of member states.
      5- ‘before it all implodes’ – it is Frankfurt that is growing and the Square Mile that is imploding. Have you not noticed the exodus right in front of your eyes?

    • MacTurk

      First, no-one is stopping Britain trading with any country, but it seems that British companies do not want to. Germany, an country equally ‘handicapped’ by its EU membership, has somehow managed to become the world’s second largest exporter. And it did this while also managing to incorporate the former East Germany, which was a hugely expensive commitment…… Leaving the EU will not – repeat NOT – convert British companies overnight into confident swashbuckling giants of the export markets.

      No EU citizen goes to Britain for the welfare, because it is niggardly. You have, especially measured against GDP per capita, probably the meanest welfare system in Europe.

      You can introduce your own employment legislation, but your trade unions, and your court system would almost certainly prevent a race to the bottom. Besides, if you want to play in the cheap and nasty corner, China is already there, and no British company will be able to compete with either China, or the likes of Indonesia or Burma, on cost.

      Also, do understand that EU standards are increasingly world standards. The EU and the USA are moving to mutual recognition of each others’ standards, and so British companies will be left in a position where they can produce to US/EU standards, or face having to have all their products tested if they wish to sell in either the US or the EU market….Having you

      The car industry in Britain is basically working to EU rules, as are their suppliers. And it is almost completely foreign owned, so if the UK leaves the EU, the least bad thing you can expect is that direct investment in that sector will fall to little or nothing. Long term, most companies will move their design personnel, and close their factories.

      The financial sector, if you leave the EU, will almost certainly exit the UK at high speed. There is no point having an EU Banking passport, when the country you are based in has left the EU. The vast majority of the banks in the City are foreign-owned, and they will move to an EU state, if only because they want to be able to influence the growing tide of legislation which is washing over the sector….

      Your own fisheries will be under your control, but will be restricted as to where they can fish, because they will not be allowed to fish in either Icelandic waters, or any EU waters.

      As for being able to “…kick out all undesirable criminals and terrorists…” that is about the European Court of Human Rights, which was basically set u[p by Britain, and has no direct links with the EU at all. Leaving that would be another process entirely…..

      Be careful what you ask for, you might it….

      • global city

        they have a strong industrial base, whilst the UK has destroyed its industry. In services, the UK outstrips Germany and most others too when it comes to exports.
        Germany has the huge advantage of being in a currency union were their products are falsely keept cheap by an undervalued currency.
        Having said that, we must remember that this hugely ‘benificial’ group we belong to sells much more to us than we sell to them, whilst with the rest of the world we have quite a healthy surplus.
        The custom union means that for the UK to trade with anyone not in the EU we have to charge embarrasingly large tariffs, which go to the EU.
        Do you no think that any of these considerations are importaant.. or are you just going along with teh EU propeganda as articleof faith?

        • MacTurk

          The decisions which led to the claimed destruction of UK industry were all taken by British governments, following British policies….

          The Common External Tariff(CET) ranges from 1.6% to 6%, neither of which constitute “…embarrasingly large tariffs…”. and it only applies to imports, not exports……..

          I think that most of the UK’s trade is with the EU and the USA, and that that is unlikely to change. That has nothing to do with your silly idea about “…teh EU propeganda as articleof faith”. It is simply a reflection of the fact that large advanced economies do most of their trade with other large advanced economies. The fact that British companies do not do much in the way of exporting outside the USA and the EU argues that they will not in the future either, so the Commonwealth option is probably not going to be a runner…..

          The EU’s share of world trade has declined much less than that of the USA, the UK or Japan, so the old Europhobic chorus about the EU being a failed experiment, or a dying group, is fatuous. They refuse to acknowledge that the rise of China(from zero to 15% of world trade) obviously means that most players will see their relative share diminish. However, as world trade has dramatically in the last several years, all the major players have seen the value of their diminished relative share go up dramatically.

          • global city

            Fancy trying to take the piss by highlighting typos at the end of a long rant, rather than respond with a well thought through critique of the main points that I’d raised. How remiss!

          • global city

            I didn’t suggest that the EU caused the deindustrialisation of the British economy. Funnily enough there was an industrial historian on today’s ‘Daily Politics’ that gave quite a good explanation for the decline.

            There was a negative EU effect on industrial location, but this was only in the Liverpool context, as far as I know. The city was never an industrial hotspot, but what it had was either Liverpool owned and connected to the global trade that Liverpool had or post war placements, ‘branch plants’ of major manufacturers. before the lazy narrative of ‘Thatcher did it’ took hold in the city, we had ten years of all the economic smart arses telling us we were on the wrong side of the country, as the sunlit uplands were all from then facing East, across the channel.

            The number of companies that pulled out of the city to move to pastures new, or ‘closer to the new markets’, was remarkable. it should be remembered that all of the plants that the british state had a controlling interest in had well pulled out of the city before 1979.

            • MacTurk

              You may not have suggested “…that the EU caused the deindustrialisation of the British economy”, but it is a very common trope among the Europhobes, most of whom are not aware of the statistical concept that “Correlation is not causation”.

              One reason for the shift of industries to the south east of England is that the UK has the most over-centralised government in Europe. The regions, and the large provincial cities like Manchester and Birmingham, have been emasculated since the end of the Second World War. The slogan “All Power To The Centre” may not have been explicit, but the policy was, and still is, to gather all power to London.

              • global city

                I agree with this. I have written before (elsewhere) that it was the era of big government that did for Liverpool. This started not long after the death of Victoria. Post war nationalisation took away the commanding heights of the economy as well as the most essential services, to be ran by Whitehall, compounding the mass removal of the city’s commercial infrastructure to London, ‘for the duration’. This, strangely enough, never came back.

                Anyway. The EU has the capacity to do just the same to the whole UK, as it is as statist, centralist, command and controlist, as any British government who thought they could steer a global economy by diktat. One of the main reasons that I think the UK should leave.

                • MacTurk

                  “The EU has the capacity to do just the same to the whole UK, as it is as statist, centralist, command and controlist…”. The only problem with this paranoid and silly statement is that it has no relationship with the economic facts of the last 50 years.

                  How do you square that assertion with the state of the German economy? How do you square it with the increase in the industrial output of the Czech Republic, since it joined? Or the fact that the Polish economy has grown, more or less continuously, since it joined the EU?

                  Any government has the capacity to do deeply stupid things. The history of Britain since 1945 makes that point most eloquently. However, the actions of the EEC/EU since 1958 on have generally resulted in increases in economic activity, and growth.

                  Sooner or later the British are going to have to take responsibility for the state their country is in, and stop wasting their time and energy trying to blame any number of sinister external forces…..

                  You need to fix your education system, cut your debt levels, both national and personal, and start making and selling products and services that the world wants to buy.

  • TheBoilingFrog

    Not only can Norway help formulate Single Market laws from the outset via EEA committees, of which it sits on over 200, but it has the ultimate safeguard of a veto. So it can throw any fax from Brussels it likes in the bin.

    Norway has indeed exercised this veto recently over the 3rd EU Postal Directive, of which we had no choice to implement precisely because we are members of the EU.

    This ‘Norway has no say’ argument is tantamount to a lie

    • TomTom

      Norway has a Sovereign Wealth Fund which no doubt the EU spurns. It controls the Salmon Industry across Europe. It has large oil fields and fishing grounds it does not share with the EU. Its Socialist Bloc in Parliament voted to give the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU simply because one member of the Committee fell ill and they were able to ram through a vote to ingratiate themselves with the EUSSR

    • MacTurk

      ‘To veto’ means to refuse to agree to something, where this refusal means that the proposal is finished, and over.

      Norway cannot veto EU rules or regulations. It can only refuse to apply them in its domestic market. The 3rd EU Postal Directive has been in full force since 2012 in all member states of the EU.

      Norway may have some expectation of being consulted, but knows full well that it cannot veto anything, and that if it boils down to its interests against the EU’s, its national interests will not come first in the EU’s deliberations….

      One current minister stated that they get most of their information about European Council meetings by taking the Ministers of their EU member state neighbours out to lunch afterwards. Not exactly “…in the loop”, is it?

      • TheBoilingFrog

        Norway has the right of veto within the EEA, as do Lichtenstein and Iceland as confirmed by Norway’s own report by their own Ministry of Foreign Affairs, see “6.1.4 The right of veto”

        Norway can veto EU rules or regulations so they don’t apply to the EEA. And as you confirmed it means they can refuse to “apply them in its domestic market.” which is better than the arrangement the UK has now.

        • MacTurk

          “Norway can veto EU rules or regulations so they don’t apply to the EEA”…? I do believe you mean EFTA, because despite Norway’s ‘veto’ of the 3rd EU Postal Directive, it is currently in force throughout the EU.

          As for the notion that Norway can veto EU regulations for the other members of EFTA, I would like to see some evidence.

          I read the article you linked, which may be more than you did, because the last two paragraphs make interesting reading. The people writing this article make the point that the EEA Treaty was concluded before both the 1995 enlargement of the EU, and the 2004 enlargement.

          “Since the enlargement of the EU in 1995, the situation has changed. The importance of the EFTA pillar as a market for the EU and as a common market for the EFTA states has been significantly reduced. If problems should arise between Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein on the one hand and the EU on the other in connection with the integration of new EU legislation into the EEA Agreement, the natural balance will therefore have shifted in the EFTA pillar’s disfavour in most areas when the EU weighs the various interests against each other. This means that it may be
          more difficult for the EFTA pillar to achieve genuine compromises
          with the EU. The 1995 enlargement also made the EU even more
          important to Norway in political and economic terms, and this trend
          will be reinforced when the Central and Eastern European candidate countries become members. In the Government’s opinion, if Norway were to exercise its right of veto, it would thus entail greater disadvantages for Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein today than when the EEA Agreement was initially entered into.

          Therefore, even though Norway has a genuine right of veto which gives us freedom to manoeuvre from a legal point of view, it is the Government’s view that our room for manoeuvre both as regards finding compromises with the EU in the EEA Joint Committee and as regards exercising our right of veto has been significantly curtailed since we entered into the EEA Agreement. This trend will be exacerbated by future enlargements of the EU to include new member states.

          The possibility of exercising the right of veto in the EEA is part of the larger question of the scope of Norway’s room for manoeuvre on broad policy issues relating to important economic sectors, in relation to an EU pillar in which an increasing number of policy areas are being viewed as part of an integrated whole. The problem is rendered particularly relevant by the fact that the EU is increasingly implementing measures outside the scope of the EEA Agreement which have implications for Norway’s relative competitiveness in the internal market”.

          Context, please. It is important. Effectively, for Norway, the veto is something like a nuclear suicide bomb. Even if the majority of the EU members were prepared to accept the legitimacy of their proposals being vetoed by a non-member – and such is almost certainly NOT the case – the potential for serious reaction must always be borne in mind….

          • TheBoilingFrog

            “As for the notion that Norway can veto EU regulations for the other members of EFTA, I would like to see some evidence.”

            Erm…The 1st paragraph of “6.1.4 The right of veto?”

            Sorry not sure what your point is, you’ve admitted “[Norway] can … refuse to apply [EU law] in its domestic market” which was the point of my original comment. The “government by fax” argument is deception and so it is.

            • MacTurk

              To refuse to apply an EU directive or regulation in their domestic market does not, no matter how you stretch the definition, constitute ‘a veto’. And despite Norway’s ‘veto’ of the 3rd EU Postal Directive, it is currently in force throughout the EU.

              Most of Article 6.1.4, especially the last three paragraphs, makes it patently obvious that Norway is in a position where it has the legal power to do something. However, given the seriously negative consequences for itself, if it ever invoked this legal right, it is of extremely limited usefulness, being more of a nuclear suicide switch, as I described it earlier. Successive Norwegian government have made it clear that they find the current arrangements expensive, undemocratic, and cumbersome. They would not recommend them to other states.

              My question was about whether Iceland and Liechtenstein had handed over to Norway the power to negotiate on their behalf….?

              • WitteringsfromWitney

                The fact that the 3rd Postal directive is currently in force in the UK has nothing to do with the fact that Norway did apply a veto to it where implementation in Norway was concerned. To compare the situation in the UK with that of Norway is to confuse two entirely different situations..

                Norway does not negotiate on behalf of Iceland or Lichtenstein, but when a veto is applied by one EFTA country it also applies in them all, something which you would have seen if you had referred to the document to which The Boiling Frog linked.

                • MacTurk

                  Norway did NOT veto the directive. If it had, given the universally accepted meaning of the word ‘Veto’, no country would be operating under the terms of the 3rd EU Postal Directive, the directive would be dead and gone, and the Commission would be busily framing a new directive.

                  To veto means to refuse to agree to a legal measure, where such refusal means that the legal measure in question becomes null and void. Or, alternatively, to prevent a legal measure from becoming law, by exercising the power of veto.

                  This is what Mr David Cameron did, on December 9th, 2011. He vetoed the proposed changes to the Treaty of Rome, and the changes were not made. The fact that all those who wanted to go ahead agreed to do so in their own group is beside the point; the original proposals are null and void.

                  This is patently NOT what the Norwegian government has done. It has merely opted out of the provisions of the 3rd EU Postal Directive which it does not like, on its own territory.

                  Norway never applied a veto, in this area. To pretend it did it to twist the meaning of the word ‘veto’ out of all common usage, and into a different dimension.

                • morbidfascination

                  “This is what Mr David Cameron did, on December 9th, 2011. He vetoed the proposed changes to the Treaty of Rome, and the changes were not made. The fact that all those who wanted to go ahead agreed to do so in their own group is beside the point; the original proposals are null and void.”
                  That is completely the point – they went ahead and did what they wanted to do among themselves anyway. Little different to Norway refusing to implement a directive whilst the EU goes ahead anyway …
                  So who is in the better position? The UK, which has a theoretical veto but finds itself ignored? Or Norway, which is in a much stronger position to ignore parts of the fax arriving from Brussels that it doesn’t like?

                • MacTurk

                  Do you really think that a country which is not even a member of the euro has any hope of stopping the members of that currency from deciding how to deal with the existential crisis? That is has the right to do so That it is morally entitled to do so? If the UK was a member, maybe, but as a non-member which has made it crystal that will never join…..not a hope in Hell

                  As a non-member, of course it was ignored, and it also managed to piss off every one of the other non-members as well, which might not be classified as a triumph for British diplomacy. Any time you are in a situation where it is one against 27, then possibly it is time to reconsider your policies….

                  The general view, which was shared by both Euro members and non-members, was that this was another exercise in the British demanding a special deal, which was bad enough. The fact that this stunt was pulled during the worst single crisis the Eu has faced since its foundation simply added suspicions of blackmail to the noxious brew….The attempt to block the Eurozone from framing measures to maintain their currency was, at best, a case of very bad timing, and left a very bad taste in the mouth of more than one finance minister, coming as it did from a non-member.

                  And the Norwegians did not apply their veto, for the last time.

            • MacTurk

              And I would gently point out that the original EEA Treaty was signed before the 1995 enlargement, when Austria, Sweden, and Finland joined. We are now in 2013, and things have changed quite a bit.

              The “government by fax” description is one used by successive Norwegian governments. If they do not, according to you, know how to describe the political/legal/economic situation they find themselves in, who does? Who has a greater right to describe their situation then themselves?

  • Coffeehousewall

    The issue is not the type of membership of the EU, it is the very fact of the membership itself which is the problem. Outside of the EU we can choose how to govern ourselves, and can choose to trade with various countries and trading blocks under the terms that diverse customers require. It was always thus. Inside the EU, in whatever form, we are unable to make the choices that are the essence of sovereignty.

  • Alex

    “If this were not possible, the fear is that the ‘associate’ membership really would be second-class: a Norway-style arrangement …”

    Ooh, perish the thought that we end up like Norway. The 2nd highest per capita GDP in the world, the highest human development index ranking in the world, rated by Foreign Policy magazine as the the world’s most well-functioning and stable country, 2.6% unemployment, one of the highest productivity countries in the world, and the worlds 6th largest merchant fleet (thanks Wikipedia).

    We should definitely avoid that outcome and tie our future to the bloc that contains Greece, Portugal, Italy Spain and France.
    Yeah, right.

    • realpolitikhome

      Or better even – we could end up like this bastion of anti-Europeans that is Luxembourg. Highest GDP per capita in the world!

      Oh, hang on …

  • Davey12

    I like the idea, that we can negotiate a simple trade agreement with the EU. The name is unimportant as long as we can get rid of lots of laws and set our own borders, defence policy and other stuff.

    Sadly we can not trust the traitorous political class that govern us not to understand what the people want.

    So total separation is the only solution.

    Dave will never get my vote and neither will I vote Tory ever again. These articles are just academic to me.

  • alexsandr

    Why not tell the EU to eff off. They can buy our stuff if they want. If they put up too many barriers we will reciprocate against goods sold from the EU to us. Cant see BMW and Bosch etc wanting to lose the UK market

    • Russell

      Not forgetting a substantial part of our annual ‘contribution’ to be withheld helping us reduce our deficit. £20 billion to spend on things WE wish it to be spent on.

    • MacTurk

      While they might wish to keep the British market(62 million), they really, really, really want to keep the EU market(450 million).

      When you are in the position of supplicant, you do not get to dictate terms. And were the UK to leave the EU, any arrangement for the UK to access the Single Market on even the same terms as Norway would be played out as Britain humbly requesting, not dictating.

      • morbidfascination

        I think you need to look more carefully at the balance of trade figures, not the balance of population figures, which tell a somewhat different story.

        I do think you are right from one point of view, namely the capacity of the EU to be spiteful and vindictive if only to deter others. We already see with the Euro how the “project” has to succeed no matter what the economic cost. Let’s face it, in common with all other tyrannies, the economic cost will not be allowed to reduce the feathers in the nests of the EU elite who will therefore not be deterred from making their political posture to a Brexit.

        • MacTurk

          And enter paranoia, stage left!

          I never said anything about “…the capacity of the EU to be spiteful and vindictive…”. That is your projection, not my view.

          In any case why would we want “…to be spiteful and vindictive…”? It would simply be a case of the EU looking after the ‘national interests’ of the EU, in negotiations with a non-member state. If you British decide, in light of your perceived national interests, to change your status from that of a full member to that of an outside state seeking access to the Single Market, why then there is no onus on the EU to take your national interests into consideration at all. Actions have consequences, and you would have forfeited that consideration by your own actions.

          As for your frankly paranoid notion that the EU needs, in some way, “ deter others.”(from leaving, I am assuming you mean), why that is simply absurd. One of the main issues the EU has with the queue of applicant is managing their expectation downwards, with regard to joining. We would like to deter them from joining too son…..

          There is no equivalent queue lining up to leave.

          If you decide to get out, then your new status would be lower than Serbia, or Turkey. They want to join, along with other states. You would be a supplicant, requesting market access, and there is no reason why any of the current or future member states would wish to privilege the UK in this process. You will be lucky to be offered the Norway model. The Swiss model is not going to be on the table..

          What most of the UK Europhobes seem to think is going to happen is that everything will change, but all the positive aspects which Britain currently enjoys will remain the same. It is a delusion, and it will not happen.

          • morbidfascination

            Badly worded on my part – I was agreeing that the UK would find itself in the position of a supplicant, not because it had nothing to offer but because the EU elite’s malevolence towards the UK will dominate the EU’s best interests. I am not expecting you to agree with this last part.

            Of course there would be no onus on the EU to take the UK’s national interests into consideration. However neither do China and many other countries that nonetheless want to trade with us on mutually beneficial terms. But that will be little change – there is already little consideration of the UK’s national interest. How could there be? There are too many nations to consider. Realistically the EU can only take into account its own “national” interests now.
            And of course the EU has a queue of countries wanting to join. So would I if I were a poor ex-Soviet republic seeing the streets of Brussels paved in subsidy gold (and choosing to ignore the irony of going from one tyranny to another). However, if the UK were to negotiate a better deal with more self-determination for itself then there would be a few other countries casting envious eyes across the water. It is those potential “others” to which I was referring.

            No, I don’t think that the UK will get to cherry-pick and keep all of the beneficial aspects, such as they are. I think that those politicians talking up the desire of the EU to keep trading with the UK are overplaying (probably knowingly) the extent to which the economic self-interest of the EU will dominate ill-feeling in Brussels. Doubtless there would be considerable short-term cost and disruption, albeit tempered mightily by the retention of the current annual contributions. But that doesn’t mean that in the round it was a much better position to be in, especially beyond the immediate short-term.
            And if, ultimately, Germany decides that it doesn’t want to sell us its Mercedes and BMWs, then more fool it. There are plenty of other countries outside the EU whose car quality is catching up. Plenty of countries who make wine every bit as good as (no, better than) French wine. Etc.
            Finally, I wish people would stop terming those opposed to the unaccountable, anti-democratic and ultimately unrealistic EU megalith as “Europhobes”. They are not. They are “EUphobes”. There is a big difference.

            • MacTurk

              You really do not understand, do you?

              We are resigned to the fact that the UK is sliding slowly out, and that nothing we can do or say will stop this process. The level of paranoia evident in your posts makes this point for me….

              Given that the UK will be out, the issue is then how to deal with the results of this British policy decision. And in that situation, the EU will be negotiating with its own interests in mind. There is no evidence for your fustian rubbish about how “… the EU elite’s malevolence towards the UK will dominate the EU’s best interests”. First, there is really no such advanced organised anti-British feeling. Secondly, even if there was, it would not over-ride our best interests.

              Any nation, either as an membership-appicant country, or a state seeking Single Market access, is a supplicant. That is in the nature of the transaction. On the one hand, a single state. On the other, a union of 27 states, which are becoming more integrated every month.

              There is a sort of resigned sadness, and a desire to move on, and also a sense of relief that the continuous carping from the sidelines will soon be over. Your issues with the EU will be a matter between yourselves, and the seabirds of the Atlantic.

              The applicant countries on the current list, with the exception of Turkey, are from the Balkans, and none are, nor were, ever a “…poor ex-Soviet republic..”.

              As for your idiotic statement about tyranny, all the ex-Communist members of the Warsaw Pact experienced both Fascist and Communist tyranny, and they know from their own historical experience that your characterisation of the EU as a tyranny is complete horseshit. And that it demeans their real suffering in the period between 1938 and 1989…

              The majority of politicians and policy makers in Europe, after studying the pros and cons of the issue, have all, with the exception of Norway(massive oil wealth, sovereign wealth fund), and a few other tiny exceptions, decided that their future is better together in the EU. And believe me when I tell you that policy makers in Central and Eastern Europe have a very bleak approach to analysis, based on their recent history.

              They will not miss Britain much, given their historical memory of how the UK, and France, sold Czechoslovakia down the river in 1938. And how Poland was abandoned, etc

              As for the sales of German, or any other luxury car brands, most luxury marques are concentrating on the Asian markets in general, and China in particular. Given the likelihood that the UK, after a Brixit, will probably be looking at declining living standards, it may not be a very attractive market anyway, whether for German or any other country’s luxury exports.

              Basically, if you leave, then the main excuse/whipping boy for your almost continual decline will no longer be available. You will be forced to take an honest look at what ails you, and you will have to fix it yourselves. Mind you, given the level of poisonous nostalgia and delusional nonsense about Britain’s role in the world exhibited in most of the British media, it may take a while before an honest appreciation is possible…..

  • Coffeehousewall

    Why do we need any sort of associate membership? We just want to trade with the EU, subject to the customer requirements, and trade with any other country we choose, subject to those other customer requirements. We don’t want anything else from the EU. The EU is not Europe, just as our MPs are not England or Britain.

    • TomTom

      China is presumably an “associate member”

      • dalai guevara

        Ah yes, you advocate to emulate the key advantage of that ecomony – the blessings of the…sweat shop?

    • Dimoto

      Who is this “we” you keep speaking for ?
      It’s hilarious that the former-UKIP-hate-figure and arch federast Jacques Delors, has suddenly become “sensible” and “statesmanlke” now that his latest ploy includes removing any residual power the UK might have retained in controlling it’s relationship with the Eurozone.

      Not very good at smelling rats you lot, are you ?
      Anyway, what would UKIP do for funding without the lavish expenses of it’s MEPs ?

      • Coffeehousewall

        I don’t know if you are Japanese or Asian, and perhaps English is not your native language. If it was then you would realise that ‘we’ is a pronoun which stands in the place of a noun, in this case the phrase ‘the British people’.

        In English it would be entirely proper to say ‘The British people do not need any sort of associate membership…’ This would be an assertion which English speakers would appreciate was part of an argument. It doesn’t require every member of the possible class to have been interviewed.

        Perhaps it is different in Japanese?

        As for Delors, I am not sure that anyone here with any sense has been taken in by him. Who do you mean by ‘you’?

        • Dimoto

          Ah So !
          But you (CHW) keep saying we want this and we want that. Since ‘we’ is plural, you must have some friends, who are they ?
          Or are you really silly enough to think you speak for “the British people”, who tend to have widely varying views.

          • Derek

            Why don’t you get your government to hold an in/out, or even an associate/full membership, referendum, and then you might find out.

      • cosmic

        What was Delors saying there that British Eurosceptics haven’t been saying for years?

        You are either a member of the EU and committed to full political integration, or you are not.

        To talk about ‘associate membership’ or ‘in Europe (the EU) but not ruled by Europe’ is like talking about being a little bit pregnant.

    • EU student

      you should read what does it mean to be in a single market and then ask if the EU will give anything to UK if the country exits. Europe is a big brother not UK…

  • WitteringsfromWitney

    ” If this were not possible, the fear is that the ‘associate’ membership
    really would be second-class: a Norway-style arrangement where Britain
    is still subject to legislation from Brussels without having any say in
    its development.”

    For heavens sake! When will you people, who classify yourselves as journalists, do your research and actually find out how EFTA/EEA works? When will you start to read the information on the EFTA website?

    Is not the function of a journalist to inform? How do you inform the public when you spread what are no more than lies purely because you know not that about which you write and are apparently too lazy to do your research?

    When will you stop ‘parroting’ what your political contacts tell you? When will you start thinking for yourselves?


    • Boudicca_Icenii

      In case anyone is wondering what WfW is getting so excited about, it’s this: evidence that membership of EEA/EFTA does not mean “govt by fax.”

      As EFTA’s own document (in the link) explain.s

      • WitteringsfromWitney

        Thanks for including that which, in my rage, I omitted! :)

    • the viceroy’s gin

      You’re expecting far too much, I fear.

      The job of the Speccie teenager is to broadcast the tittle tattle they find sprinkled about the Londonistan bubble.

      Researching and consolidating information is for the little people, not the important.

      • Noa

        The true agenda of Lib-Dem MEP Andrew Duff, head of the Union of European
        Federalists, is to maintain the UK within the EU. His real agenda is
        clearly set forth in his lugubrious and phantasmagorical “Federal
        Union Now”.

        “…No British federalist can welcome the risk that a greater political
        gap may now arise between the UK and mainland Europe. But the
        greater prize in the longer term is the formation of a strong, stable
        and successful core at the heart of the European Union around
        which other states will in the end be bound to coalesce. One day,
        perhaps many years hence, when the UK is convinced of the
        success of federal union, and sees it working powerfully in world
        affairs, it is likely to change its mind and want to jump in…”

        • cosmic

          A fantasist, well, he’s a Lib Dem, so it goes with the territory.

          • Noa

            Never underestimate the perfidy of the long marchers.

          • Wessex Man

            Don’t panic, they will be extinct after the next General Election.

        • global city

          He’s an absolute fanatic. I used to see him on the EU parliament show the BBC used to show, till they clocked that it gave the public too much honest exposure of the EU and what it is!

    • TomTom

      Hell, I am not part of the United States but EVERYONE is subject to US legislation and compliance

  • In2minds

    Article 50, it’s very simple, just do it.

  • Chris

    This has got beyond a joke. We need to stop the europhobes destroying Britain’s chances.

    • alexsandr

      yes. chances to get sucked into a euro state of massive regulation. No ta.

    • Vulture

      For some time now, Chris, despite the BBC and other organs of propaganda, and the rock-solid support of all three Westminster political parties, a clear majority of Britons have favoured our withdrawal from the corrupt, undemocratic , ruinous and dictatorial EU. It is our membership of this sinister outfit that is a historic error that is ‘destroying Britain’s chances &’that now needs to be corrected.

    • chan chan

      The opportunity to be dragged into a vortex of further ruin is too great to miss, comrades. We must grab it with both hands, suspend paliament immediately, and install a EU mandarin in its place.

      All those dissenting must be reported to your local commissar for re-programming without hesitation. Without the glorious EU, we are worthless bourgeois pigs, fit only for slaughter on the filthy altar of capitalism. Let us be grateful for the kindness of comrades Barroso and Van Rompuy, which only a glorious state apparatus can supply!

      Don’t forget – keep those tractor quotas up!


      • Chris

        Yes isn’t it awful having jobs, peace and prosperity forced on us? Let’s go back to the fifties and all that wonderful decline. Let’s have a currency so weak the government will only let us take tiny amounts of it out the country. We could even have rationing.

        • Quiet Man

          Oh my goodness, another one who believes that the EU brought peace to Europe. Let me give you a clue old chum, the reason Europe had peace is because a huge USA army stood across the Rhine and stopped the forerunner of the EU (AKA the Soviet Union) from admitting Europe to its own version of dictatorship.
          The EU is essentially a trade cartel that stifles jobs and initiative, keeps the poor nations of Africa struggling in debt as they cannot sell us their spare food and who has saddled us with the Common Agricultural policy which pernicious piece of legislation costs most of the none farming EU states a small fortune in order to allow farmers the privilege of growing and selling us expensive internally grown food.
          Outside the EU we could trade with anyone willing to buy or sell to us. In the EU were stuffed by a system that keeps prices high along with stifling investment and industry.
          Can we please just leave!

          • HooksLaw

            France is a small net contributor to the CAP. Do you think the USA does not subsidise its farmers?

            • an ex-tory voter

              Who gives a flying fcuk whether the US does, or does not, subsidise it’s farmers, or whether France is, or is not, a net contributor to the CAP? The only thing that matters is the subsidies which we UK citizens pay and the price we are forced to pay for our food.

        • chan chan

          It shall be a great future, comrade. Only 50% of children will be starving. What Western degenerate states can deliver such qutoas? None, I tell you!

          I for one stand shoulder to shoulder with you, Comrade Chris. I shall be forwarding your name to the Central Committee for such a fine propaganda effort. You deserve the Order of Lenin for this, and I will also sign over my monthly allowance of gruel. Our greatest warriors need full bellies for the struggle to come…

        • Dimoto

          Yes, well, if you take on the burden of fighting a ruinous war to stop the last evil European hegemonist, it will have a cost and a consequence.
          Actually the 50s in the UK were mostly a time of full employment and booming industry. Don’t recall the Euro “founding fathers” imposing it on us though.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Lock them up in camps you mean? Or perhaps cut out their tongues and cut off their hands so that they cannot articulate opinions you disagree with?

      One of the most pernicious and anti-democratic developments in British politics is the use of ‘phobe’ to describe any dissenting opinions and thereby attempt to de-legitimise them.

      • Derek

        Yes, such as Islamaphobe. Happy New Year, Tommy Robinson!

      • Daniel Maris

        Opinionphobia is deeply entrenched in our society. :)

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