, 12 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
As hard #NoDeal Brexit goes on back foot, thanks to sterling work of our elected MPs, now the soft Leavers are here arguing for the "EEA option". What follows is a short thread to remind ourselves of the key pros and cons of the Norway model...
Pros of EEA option. 1) reduces economic disruption of Brexit. 2) provides partial solution to Irish border problem. 3) helps shield UK against US economic predation. 4) would make it much easier to rejoin EU as fast as possible thanks to continued regulatory alignment
Now the cons of EEA. A) It would be quite simply bonkers for the UK to transform itself from a leading power within the EU to a passive recipient of the EU's rules. The "rule taker, not rule maker" point is totally true. Norwegians call it "fax democracy". Take back control?!
B) EEA membership alone would not eliminate the economic shock of Brexit and would fail to solve the Irish border problem entirely. For that, you need the EEA + Customs Union. Which only exacerbates the concerns about loss of UK influence and impact on democratic control.
Soft Leavers try to deny those huge problems, in effect, by inventing their own fantasy version of the EEA. E.g. "it's only the iddy-biddy single market". Well, that's pretty vast. And it includes all the flanking socio-economic policies like environment and employment law.
Or e.g. "the EFTA-EEA states have lots of influence in the EU". No they don't. They have an entirely marginal impact. They can have moderate success if they concentrate political capital on particular issues. But their influence is a pale shadow of even the smallest MS.
Or e.g. "the EEA offers lots of flexibility to pick and chose the rules you follow". No it doesn't. Or at least it offers about the same flexibility as the EU does to its MSs. This isn't a pick-and-chose system. You basically have to play by the rules (the ones set by the EU).
Or e.g. "we can have the Single Market without political union". If political union is code for federal superstate: a lie. If it suggests you can run socio-economic policy without political cooperation: naive beyond words. And the EEA has its own institutions too, you know...
As for arguing that "the UK could reject free movement of persons but keep the rest of the Single Market as an EEA member" - usually citing tiny Lichtenstein as a model - that is so laughable, it is simply incredible so many people have given it even the slightest credence...
Final point: contrary to soft Leave propaganda, UK can't just waltz into EEA institutions like it owns them. Needs approval of EFTA states. Then approval of EFTA-EEA states + EU institutions + EU Member States. Right now: who wants such an unstable country ruining a stable club?
You can read more in my report for the European Parliament on the legal / institutional framework of any future UK-EU relationship:


Hope all that helps counter the latest wave of Leave fantasies and false promises!
Soft Leavers, as predicted, jump to "defend" their flawless but sadly fantasy EEA. Favourite quip from EU-EEA law colleague in Oslo: "It sounds great, this EEA you are talking about in the UK... can Norway join too?"
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