David Cameron’s fear of the
“Norway option”

In a sign that David Cameron, and his fellow Europhiles of the various “remain” campaigns, are having their feathers ruffled by the so-called “Norway option” that some campaigners – including me – advocate as means of transitioning out of the European Union, he has sought to warn against it.

Backed up by his slippery allies such as Espen Barth Eide, and on the back of a smear campaign by Stronger In, the PM has trotted out the usual lies about Norway having “no say” on “EU rules” but still having to pay. One just needs to scratch the surface for a moment to break through the deceit.

The European Free Trade Association makes a financial contribution of behalf of its members for their participation in the single market. In 2014 Norway’s 55% share of that contribution amounted to approximately £8.1 million. Accounting for its rebate, the United Kingdom transfers £12 billion a year or around £33 million a day to the European Union for the dubious privileges of subjugation.

This may strike you as odd, as you will be used to the Europhile argument that Norway pays “almost as much as us” but has “no say”. This is because the dishonest Europhile figure is grossly inflated by the inclusion of voluntary contributions Norway makes that have nothing to do with the single market, most of which does not go to the EU.

They include voluntary grants made to post-Communist countries, a form of aid for economic rehabilitation, amounting to around €804 million, and money paid into the EEA grant system – again nothing to do with the single market, and it does not go to the EU – which, totalled with the grants, comes to a total €1.7 billion from 2009-2014.

To top the lie off, they include voluntary contributions to EU programmes from Erasmus+ to Copernicus, which again are nothing to do with the single market, with countries who do not participate in the market also contributing. An independent Britain would likely choose to voluntarily contribute to the programmes where there are mutual benefits in cooperation.

Why do Europhiles have to lie? Because they are shaken and they have no proper, robust and honest arguments. Coming from the mouth of the prime minister, with all the prestige that lends to the dishonesty, their guff is polished like a turd and believed by the uninformed.

As for having no “say” or influence on the “EU rules”. Well, it’s another lie. For a start, we should be suspicious of Europhile absolutes; the Norwegian government – as an EEA member – is very much involved in the complex process of consultation before “EU rules” are implemented. More significantly, Norway has an independent trade policy and not only can it pursue and sign its own trade agreements, it is involved at an international level influencing the standards of trade and industry.

This is the point. The majority of EU law does not originate from the EU, but from global bodies – a staggering array of them that are not exactly household names – from UNECE, to Codex, and WP .29, these are what you might pithily call the “top tables” if you like, where Britain can be compelled to adopt the common EU position, and the EU seeks to steadily marginalise and eventually replace nation states – a severe risk we will take if we choose to remain.

Norway meanwhile – and its related industry and corporate interests, NGO’s, and numerous non-state actors – are influencing the development and design of these so-called “rules” directly before they are drafted and handed down to the EU. They pay far less than us, and they have their say.

The regulation of trade and industry is becoming globalised and we mustn’t get left behind and become irrelevant. Governance and regulation has moved on from the 50’s, but the EU hasn’t. We need agility, the ability to form dynamic coalitions and alliances according to the situation, the independence to protect our interests, and we need to take our seat at the “top tables”.

Norway does.

Crucially, this “option” is not a permanent alternative, but a pragmatic transitional arrangement that can be negotiated in the two year period stipulated by Article 50. Advocates of this method – such as I and the Referendum Planning Group –  acknowledge its imperfection, but Brexit will necessarily have to work in stages, and this will be stage one. Brexit is a process not a one off event.

As it allays economic fears and neutralises so much Europhile fear mongering at once, it’s obvious why they are making a concerted effort to smear it in lies.

While Cameron smears the so-called “Norway option”, he is preparing to offer us second class status as an “associate member”. This, I contend, is a poorer offer and considering the changing nature of the EU, and its lust for power, more uncertain and a far greater risk.


Ben is a writer, editor and Brexit campaigner. He advocates a counter-revolution to achieve the restoration of constitutional liberty and national independence. He blogs at The Sceptic Isle. Follow him on Twitter: @TheScepticIsle

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The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty