The EEA “emergency brake”

Amongst all the huffing and puffing of David Cameron trying and failing to get an “emergency brake” on free movement, and coming back with the possibility of minor restrictions on migrant welfare, it has not been reported or discussed that non-EU EEA states actually do have an emergency brake. What is more, while we have to petition the Commission, and await their decision, regarding whether we can activate our “brake” on migrant welfare, the EEA countries are able to use theirs unilaterally to suspend freedom of movement.

Free movement of workers is a non-negotiable part of the EEA treaty, but Articles 112-3 of the EEA Agreement, give members “safeguard measures” which allow parties to unilaterally take “appropriate measures” if serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties are liable to persist.

They have been invoked by Lichtenstein, and reinforced by the transitional agreements of Protocol 15 (Article 5–7) of the EEA agreement, which allowed Liechtenstein to keep specific restrictions on the free movement of people until 1998. They have also been invoked by Iceland in the wake of the 2008 banking crisis when it suspended free movement of capital by implementing capital controls. These are EEA members with significantly less potential influence than Britain, yet they have a significant power that we lack; the ability to suspend fundamental freedoms in time of strain.

This is food for thought considering David Cameron is struggling to secure agreement for a significantly less powerful and effective “brake” which will likely be unfit for purpose; asJose Manuel Barroso has said, it will not deter migrants.  The EEA agreement has a far more effective provision, though we have to leave the EU to use it.

Read The Market Solution, to find out more about we can rejoin the Europe Free Trade Association and trade with the EU via the EEA to give us a de-risked, economically secure Brexit, and a strong foundation upon which we can begin to build a reformed, independent Britain.


Ben is the Conservatives for Liberty Web Editor and a Brexit campaigner.  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