Norwegian politicians say Scotland could only join EFTA if independent

Written by Emilio Casalicchio on 12 January 2017 in News

Norway rejects Nicola Sturgeon's Brexit plan for Scotland, which would see it retain membership of EFTA

Nicola Sturgeon - credit First Minister's office

Top political figures in Norway have rejected Nicola Sturgeon’s plan to keep Scotland in the single market after Brexit – despite her basing it on the Norwegian model.

The First Minister laid out proposals for Scotland to join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and European Economic Area (EEA) to enjoy full access to the single market even if Britain quits it.

But the head of the Norwegian parliament’s EFTA and EEA delegation said the plan would be impossible unless Scotland voted for independence.


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Svein Roald Hansen said under Article 56 of the EFTA convention Scotland could not trade under the agreement’s rules as well as those the UK forges with other countries after Brexit.

He was backed up by Øyvind Halleraker, the deputy leader of the Norwegian parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

Mr Hansen told Buzzfeed: “To enter the EEA agreements, they have to be either be a member of the EU like they are today or a member of EFTA.

“If they were to become members of EFTA, they would first have to break free from the UK.

“If the UK is out of the EU and they negotiate free trade agreements with other countries, that would presumably be applied to Scotland.

“Scotland can’t have agreements as part of the UK and other agreements as part of EFTA.”

His comments are a major blow for Sturgeon, as all four existing EFTA members would have to consent for another to join, while all of the remaining 27 EU states would have to agree to Scotland joining the EEA.

It comes after the Spanish government said there could be no separate Brexit deal for Scotland while it remains part of the UK.

Sturgeon has vowed to hold another Scottish independence referendum if Theresa May fails to keep Scotland in the single market – albeit not in 2017.

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