Friday

22nd Feb 2019

Norway could complicate UK's internal market access

  • The UK is not likely to start formal talks to leave the EU until 2017 (Photo: Davide D’Amico)

Norway could block Britain's post-EU exit access to the European single market.

On Tuesday (9 August), Norway’s European affairs minister, Elisabeth Vik Aspaker, said a UK attempt to rejoin the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) may not be in Norway's interest. EFTA states are not members of the EU.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“It’s not certain that it would be a good idea to let a big country into this organisation. It would shift the balance, which is not necessarily in Norway’s interests," she told Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.

Norway gained access to the EU's internal market via its membership with the European Economic Area (EEA). The EEA includes all EU member states along with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein and includes the free movement of people, something the UK is likely to oppose.

It is not yet clear if the UK - which was a member till 1973 - wants to rejoin EFTA, which also includes Switzerland. The UK can join EFTA without becoming an EEA member.

But any renewed UK membership bid would require a unanimous vote among existing EFTA members, said Aspake.

The Guardian newspaper reports David Davis, UK's so-called Brexit minister, will hold talks on the issue with senior Norwegian officials in the next few weeks.

Economic uncertainty

The move comes after a new report by the London-based Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), which suggest Britain stands to lose billions from its withdrawal from the free trade bloc.

Any UK failure to negotiate a new trade deal following an EU exit will seriously hit Britain's GDP, Wednesday's (10 August) IFS report suggests.

It notes the UK needs to seal a new trade deal or risk facing an equivalent 4 percent loss of economic output. Although, the report notes new trade deals are "unlikely to compensate fully for EU trade".

IFS researcher Ian Mitchell in a statement said that the UK faces big economic choices in terms of future EU relations.

He also pointed out the large differences between having "access to" and a "membership of" the single market.

"Membership is likely to offer significant economic benefits particularly for trade in services. But outside the EU, single market membership also comes at the cost of accepting future regulations designed in the EU without UK input," he said.

Formal exit talks out, Russia in

Meanwhile, UK prime minister Theresa May says her government won't launch any formal exit talks before the end of the year.

She reiterated her position in separate telephone calls to Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte on Monday (7 August).

She has also spoken to Russia's president Vladimir Putin.

Both leaders pledged to smooth strained ties, despite western sanctions on Russia, Russia's support of the Syrian regime, and its invasion of Crimea.

"The prime minister and president agreed that British and Russian citizens faced common threats from terrorism, and that co-operation on aviation security in particular was a vital part of the international counter-terrorism effort," said a UK government spokesperson.

Barnier: UK has to move on Brexit

No breakthrough emerged from the meeting between the top EU and UK negotiators on Monday evening in Brussels. Michel Barnier urged the UK to move on its red lines to help clinch a deal, with 45 days left until Brexit.

EU and UK agree - but only to hold further Brexit talks

After Theresa May's "robust" talks with top EU officials, London and Brussels agree to talk further - even though their opposing positions have not inched closer. European Parliament president Antonio Tajani warned "We're weeks from an economic and human catastrophe."

News in Brief

  1. Juncker pledges climate action alongside Swedish activist
  2. Swedbank brings in external help on money laundering revelations
  3. No-deal Brexit danger 'very serious', Corbyn says after Brussels meeting
  4. Tusk to back pro-EU candidates in Polish EP vote
  5. Germany rejects UK appeal on Saudi arms sales
  6. French senators decry 'dysfunction' on Macron security aide affair
  7. France to ban far-right groups over antisemitism
  8. Swedish climate activist to face Juncker in Brussels

Opinion

Lost in Brexit chaos - abortion rights in Northern Ireland

Labour MP Diana Johnson has brought a private members bill to Westminster that proposes to decriminalise abortion in the whole of the UK, which means that, if successfully passed, current provisions for Northern Ireland will also be repealed.

May on whistle-stop EU tour to seek new backstop pledges

The British prime minister dramatically delayed a parliamentary vote on the Brexit deal at the last minute, as she faced defeat. Theresa May will now speed-tour EU capitals to try to secure further political guarantees.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Microsoft warns EU on election hack threat
  2. Brexit talks to continue after May-Juncker meeting
  3. Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all
  4. EU commission appeals Dieselgate ruling
  5. 'No burning crisis' on migrant arrivals, EU agency says
  6. 'No evidence' ECB bond-buying helped euro economy
  7. Juncker: Orban should leave Europe's centre-right
  8. College of Europe alumni ask rector to cut Saudi ties

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us