Saturday, 22 April 2017

Benefits of joining the EEA

Overview

European Economic Area (EEA)


The EEA Agreement also states that when a country becomes a member of the European Union, it shall also apply to become party to the EEA Agreement (Article 128), thus leading to an enlargement of the EEA.


The EEA Agreement provides for the inclusion of EU legislation covering the four freedoms — the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital — throughout the 31 EEA States. In addition, the Agreement covers cooperation in other important areas such as research and development, education, social policy, the environment, consumer protection, tourism and culture, collectively known as “flanking and horizontal” policies. The Agreement guarantees equal rights and obligations within the Internal Market for citizens and economic operators in the EEA.
What is the EEA Not?


The EEA Agreement does not cover the following EU policies:

  • Common Agriculture and Fisheries Policies (although the Agreement contains provisions on various aspects of trade in agricultural and fish products);
  • Customs Union;
  • Common Trade Policy;
  • Common Foreign and Security Policy;
  • Justice and Home Affairs (even though the EFTA countries are part of the Schengen area); or
  • Monetary Union (EMU).

Steve Peers, Professor of EU constitutional law and commissioned expert for the European parliament and commission, Scotland would benefit from not joining the fiscal constraints of EU single currency while still participating in the single market.
He also stated that in the case of a so-called “hard Brexit” with the UK shut out of most trading blocks and options Scotland could use the EEA as a “waiting house” for future membership before or after independence.
Steve Peers said: The most obvious route for Scotland to consider would be membership of the EEA, along with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.


EEA Institutions

The decision-making process in the EEA Agreement is characterised by its two-pillar structure. Substantive decisions relating to the EEA Agreement and its operation are a joint venture with the EU and in the hands of common bodies.
The EEA EFTA States have not transferred any legislative competencies to the EEA institutions and they are unable, constitutionally, to accept direct decisions by the Commission or the European Court of Justice. To cater for this situation, the EEA Agreement established EEA EFTA bodies to match those on the EU side. The EEA EFTA States take all decisions by concensus as opposed to the EU side where decisions related to EEA legislation are normally taken by majority vote.
The two-pillar EEA structure: 

After the EU referendum last June, the Scottish Government highlighted its commitment to continuing full membership of the EU, pointing to the outcome of the vote in Scotland which saw 62 per cent of the vote secured for remaining.
The EEA, sometimes referred to as the single market, includes all the countries that are part of Europe's free trade area, with the exception of Switzerland. All members of the EU automatically become members of the European Economic Area, giving them access to the single market.
However, three European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA) members, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, are part of the EEA too. Switzerland, the one EFTA member not in the EEA, has made separate bilateral trade agreements with the EU to allow it to participate in the single market in some areas.
YES rally in Dundee
Today (22nd April) in Dundee city square the YES movement  held a rally and amongst the speakers were Paul Kavanagh (@weegingerdug) and Lesley Riddock (@LesleyRiddoch) who gave great speeches but during Lesley's speech she highlighted the fact that we didn't need Westminster to say if we could or couldn't hold a referendum, if fact we could by a simple vote in the Scottish parliament to declare Independence.
Lesley went on to say that joining the EEA would be the best option for Scotland, and this very much on the same lines as Lesley from Ron Wilson (@TartanSeer)

So, the question is would the EEA and declaring Independence in the Scottish Parliament be in our best interests?
Personally I believe it would. An easy transition into the EEA certainly looks tasty 


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Benefits of joining the EFTA

Overview

European Free Trade Association (“EFTA”)

EFTA is an association which was established in 1960 to promote economic cooperation, integration and free trade for the benefit of its States which, at that time, included the UK. It was an alternative association for European countries that were either unable or unwilling to join the then European Economic Community (“EEC”). In 1973, the UK left EFTA to join the EEC which later became the European Community and is now known as the European Union (“EU”). Today, EFTA consists of 4 members: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. EFTA and its members are governed by the EFTA convention which provides the legal basis for the organisation. It does not, however, create any significant level of supranational government.

What are the benefits of EFTA?

Free movement of goods The EFTA Convention allows for free movement of goods between EFTA States. In particular, customs duties on imports and exports between EFTA States are prohibited. Similarly EFTA States cannot impose internal taxes on imported products from other EFTA States in excess of taxes imposed on similar domestic products. EFTA States also cannot impose taxation which affords indirect protection to other products. Finally, quantitative restrictions on imports and exports to and from EFTA States are forbidden.

There are some carve outs from the rules. For example, the free movement of goods does not apply to certain agricultural products. There are also specific rules regarding seeds and organic agriculture. EFTA States can impose some restrictions on free movement of goods on certain grounds including public morality, public policy, and public security amongst others, so long as the measures do not constitute arbitrary discrimination or a disguised restriction on trade between EFTA States.

The EFTA States are also signatories to the Regional Convention on Pan-Euro-Mediterranean Preferential Rules of Origin which extends across the EU, EFTA, and various states in the Balkans, North Africa and the Middle East. Rules of origin determine the country of origin of a product for the purposes of international trade and free trade agreements in particular.


Free movement of goods

Free movement of goods The EFTA Convention allows for free movement of goods between EFTA States. In particular, customs duties on imports and exports between EFTA States are prohibited. Similarly EFTA States cannot impose internal taxes on imported products from other EFTA States in excess of taxes imposed on similar domestic products. EFTA States also cannot impose taxation which affords indirect protection to other products. Finally, quantitative restrictions on imports and exports to and from EFTA States are forbidden. There are some carve outs from the rules.

For example, the free movement of goods does not apply to certain agricultural products. There are also specific rules regarding seeds and organic agriculture. EFTA States can impose some restrictions on free movement of goods on certain grounds including public morality, public policy, and public security amongst others, so long as the measures do not constitute arbitrary discrimination or a disguised restriction on trade between EFTA States.

The EFTA States are also signatories to the Regional Convention on Pan-Euro-Mediterranean Preferential Rules of Origin which extends across the EU, EFTA, and various states in the Balkans, North Africa and the Middle East. Rules of origin determine the country of origin of a product for the purposes of international trade and free trade agreements in particular.

Freedom of establishment
The EFTA Convention provides for the freedom of establishment between EFTA States. This means that companies established in accordance with the laws of one EFTA State and having their registered office, central administration or principal place of business in one of the EFTA States can establish themselves in any of the other EFTA States. Different EFTA States impose their own carve outs to these rules, which are incorporated into the EFTA Convention.

Free movement of people and services 
The EFTA Convention allows for the free movement of people between EFTA States. Nationals of one EFTA State can enter another EFTA State to work, provide services or reside in that country. However, the EFTA free movement rules are not as extensive as those of the EU. For example, the provision of services in another EFTA State is only allowed for up to 90 days without a residence permit.

Access to Free Trade Agreements Unlike the EU, EFTA is not a customs union and does not have its own tariff setting mechanism. It does, however, have a coordinated trading policy and concludes free trade agreements on behalf of its members. To date, EFTA has concluded free trade agreements with over 35 jurisdictions which you can access on the link in Conclusions below.

The free trade agreements normally grant duty-free access for all industrial products (including fishery products) and agricultural products. Furthermore, they include trade remedies as well as provisions on competition, the protection of intellectual property, and on payments and transfers. In addition, many of the free trade agreements contain substantive rules liberalising trade in services, investment and public procurement, as well as provisions on trade facilitation and sustainable development.

If Scotland were to join EFTA, it would not automatically become a party to the free trade agreements that EFTA has already concluded. However, those agreements do provide for additional members acceding to those agreements subject to the approval of all parties to those specific agreements. For example, Article 39 of the free trade agreement between EFTA and Canada states that: “The Parties may invite any State to become a Party to this Agreement. The terms and conditions of the participation by the additional Party shall be the subject of an agreement between the Parties and the invited State.”

In addition to the EFTA free trade agreements, EFTA States are able to negotiate their own free trade agreements with other third countries.

World Trade Organisation  
Unlike the EU, EFTA is not a member of the World Trade Organisation (“WTO”). However, all EFTA States are WTO members. The UK would, therefore, have its own seat at the table at WTO discussions.

What would the Scotland have to contribute to EFTA? 
All EFTA States make a financial contribution to the EFTA budget. By way of example, in 2015 Switzerland contributed approximately €8 million and Norway contributed approximately €11 million, which is considerably less than the UK’s current contribution to the EU budget. Which is estimated, at worst, the UK’s EFTA contribution would be around 1% of its contribution to the EU budget.

How would the Scotland join EFTA? 
If an independent Scotland decided to join EFTA, it would have to apply for accession to the EFTA Council which is composed of the heads of the permanent delegations to EFTA. Each EFTA State has one vote at the EFTA Council and their unanimous consent would be required for the UK to re-join EFTA. 

Do EFTA States have access to the Single Market? 
Being an EFTA State does not provide access to the Single Market. However, currently three (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) of the four EFTA States are also members of the European Economic Area (EEA) and, therefore, have access to the Single Market on this basis. Switzerland has negotiated access to the Single Market by means of bilateral agreements with the EU.

Conclusion
As an independent state the Scottish Government needs to consider its trading options either inside the EU, or with EFTA which would provide access to a number of already negotiated free trade agreements with the following 27 free trade agreements (covering 38 countries) with the following

Although Scotland would have to comply with the provisions of the EFTA Convention, it is clear that EFTA is open to derogation from its rules.

Coming next:
Benefits of joining the EEA
The European Economic Area (EEA) provides for the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital within the single market of the European Union (EU)

Benefits of joining the EEA

Overview European Economic Area (EEA) The  EEA Agreement  also states that when a country becomes a member of the European Union, it s...