The Brexit negotiations have reached crunch point.

The Prime Minister looks set to agree a deal with the European Union within days.

Soon MPs will have to vote. The parliamentary arithmetic is going to be very tight.

The chances of no deal are rising day-by-day.

 

The UK needs a Plan B.

 One that can work for the UK and the EU.

One that both Leavers and Remainers can back.

One that delivers on the referendum result.

That plan is ‘Norway for Now’.

 

Norway for Now is the only alternative plan that the EU might sign up to at this late stage

Norway for Now is the only alternative plan which might win a Parliamentary majority

 Norway for Now is the only alternative plan that would protect jobs and preserve the Union of the UK

What is involved in Norway for Now?

  • The UK would join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) alongside Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein

  • The UK would remain a member of the European Economic Area (EEA)

  • The UK would maintain our current customs arrangements until new systems and procedures have been agreed with the European Union (EU)

  • The UK would leave the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and join the EFTA Court

  • The UK would leave the Common Agricultural Policy

  • The UK would leave the Common Fisheries Policy

  • The UK would remain in the Single Market

  • The UK would stay out of the Schengen 'open borders' regime

What are the advantages of Norway for Now?

Norway for Now  is the only alternative deal that the EU is ready to sign up to

  • EEA and EFTA already exist so joining them wouldn’t require the negotiation of a bespoke set of arrangements

  • Unlike a Canada-style Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the EU could agree to Norway for Now straight away

  • The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and both the Irish and Norwegian Prime Ministers have all spoken in favour of the idea

Norway for Now is the only deal that can win a Parliamentary majority

  • Unlike a Canada-style FTA, no deal or a second referendum, Norway for Now is likely to secure the support of a majority of MPs

  • Norway for Now would deliver the result of the 2016 referendum on schedule

  • Norway for Now provides a platform from which we could negotiate a longer-term deal securing greater control

Norway for Now is the only alternative deal that would protect jobs and preserve the union of the UK

  • Unlike a Canada-style FTA and no deal, Norway for Now will prevent a hard border in Ireland

  • Norway for Now would protect manufacturing supply chains and jobs, and maintain frictionless trade with the EU

  • Norway for Now would not require Northern Ireland to accept different rules than the rest of the UK

Norway for Now Q&A

Is there enough time to negotiate a Norway-style agreement before March 2019?

Due to the ‘off-the-shelf’ nature of the Norway option it is likely that negotiations would proceed swiftly. But we would probably need some of the transition ("Implementation Period") to finalise and implement the agreement. This short transition period will make sure that all procedures and processes regarding UK-EU trade will work seamlessly from day one.

Isn’t it clear that the EU won’t agree to the UK pursuing a Norway-style arrangement?

No. Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Negotiator, has always said that a model that combined EEA/EFTA and a customs union was one that he would be happy to consider. Norway for Now would preserve frictionless trade and not threaten the EU’s cherished ‘4 freedoms’. 

To join the EEA doesn’t the UK have to be a member of the EU or EFTA first?

The UK is already inside the EEA and would be able to retain membership.  We would apply to join EFTA and the EFTA pillar of the EEA.

Is a ‘continuity of customs arrangement’ compatible with article 56(3) of EFTA?

It will involve a derogation from the EFTA Agreement that will require the approval of the existing EFTA states. Both the Norwegian Prime Minister and the Icelandic Foreign Minister have stated publicly that they would welcome a British application to join EFTA and stay in the EEA. Furthermore it would be in their interests to do so. The UK is Norway’s largest export market. We are Iceland’s second largest market.

Will the UK have a unilateral right to leave the EEA/EFTA at a time of its own choosing?

Under the EEA Agreement any member retains the right to withdraw with one year’s notice. But, to avoid the problems of an Irish “backstop”, we would agree not to exercise that right, so long as the EU works in good faith to negotiate mutually acceptable alternative arrangements for customs and trade.

Doesn’t Norway for Now still have the same problems with the Irish backstop as Chequers?

As members of EEA and EFTA, with continuity in our current customs and VAT arrangements, there would be no need for any regulatory, customs or VAT checks at any border between the UK and the EU. The EU will require an insurance policy to guarantee that the UK will not leave the EEA or the customs arrangements without alternative arrangements having been agreed.  We would offer a legally binding commitment not to do so in exchange for a legally binding commitment by the EU to work in good faith to negotiate and conclude new arrangements that preserve no hard border in Ireland.

What will the border look like under a Norway-style arrangement?

Michel Barnier has confirmed that what he calls "Norway Plus" (membership of the EEA and a customs union or its equivalent) is the only Brexit option that delivers frictionless trade. There would be no need for any new checks at the border. 

Will the UK’s immigration policy from Europe change under Norway for Now?

If the U.K. enters the EFTA pillar of the EEA, workers from elsewhere in the EEA will have the right to work in the U.K. However, the position will be better than the position before Brexit in two ways:

- first, under Article 112 (1) of the EEA Agreement, we will have an ‘emergency brake’ which will allow us to cap migration if events give rise to “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties of a sectorial or regional nature”; and

- second, as a result of the Government’s preparations for Brexit, we are registering all EEA nationals in the UK; we will therefore be in a position to identify any EEA nationals who settle in the U.K. but do not find work within a few months, and will be able to remove them.

How much money will the UK send to Brussels under the Norway option? Will we still pay a €39bn divorce bill on leaving the EU?

We would still require EU consent for a revised Withdrawal Agreement so we would honour the €39 billion divorce settlement. If we stayed in the EEA after the end of the transition, like the other EFTA states in the EEA we would pay for what we access from Single Market programmes and agencies. This would amount to approximately 2/3 of what we currently pay per capita.

Doesn’t the Norway-style arrangement prevent the UK from securing its own trade deals?

Initially, to avoid a border in Ireland the UK would enter a comprehensive customs relationship with the EU. Once the UK and the EU have agreed new systems and procedures which remove the need for customs checks at the Irish border, the UK could withdraw from its customs arrangement with the EU, and would then be free to sign trade deals with third parties either bilaterally or through EFTA if it wished.

How long will this Norway-style arrangement last?

A Norway-style arrangement would take the UK out of the EU and maximise our options for the future. There would be no time limit on our membership but nor could the UK be kept in the EEA against our will. Our agreement to stay in the arrangement until new arrangements have been agreed would depend on the EU fulfilling its obligation to negotiate these new arrangements in good faith.

Is this being put forward as an alternative to the Prime Minister’s deal, or only as a plan B in case the PM either fails to get a deal or fails to get a majority for her deal in the Commons?

The Norway for Now plan has many advantages. But it is being proposed as a Plan B which would deliver Brexit and avoid the chaos of no deal.

Recent coverage of Norway for Now

George Trefgarne in Conservative Home, 1st November 2018:

Why Norway-to-Canada is practical and legal - and offers the UK and EU a way out of a Brexit crash

The Economist, 1st November 2018:

Norway for now - or never?

The Week, 31st October 2018:

Brexit: what is the Norway model and would it work?

Adam Payne in Business Insider, 30th October 2018:

The Norway model is back on the Brexit agenda - here's what that means

Chris Morris for the BBC, 30th October 2018:

Brexit: What is the Norway model?

James Blitz in The Financial Times, 29th October 2018:

Is 'Norway for Now' a runner?

Edward Malnick in The Telegraph, 27th October 2018:

Senior Brexiteers express 'strong interest' in a 'plan B

Nick Boles MP in The Times, 26th October 2018:

Norway offers way out of the Brexit maze

Frank Field MP in The Guardian, 26th October 2018:

We urgently need an insurance plan for no-deal Brexit - here's my idea

Paul Goodman in Conservative Home, 25th October 2018:

It's time to study the map that leads from Norway to Canada

Ben Kelly on politics.co.uk, 22nd October 2018:

The trade but not the politics: There's still time for Brexiters to Embrace Norway

Nicky Morgan MP in The Sunday Times, 21st October 2018:

Norway deal can get us on track

Nick Boles MP in The Daily Mail, 16th October 2018:

My workable plan B that will break the Brexit deadlock

William Hague in The Telegraph, 15th October 2018:

Theresa May has moved heaven and earth to reach a Brexit deal, but there's no shame in trying again

Thomas Colson/Adam Payne in Business Insider, 10th October 2018:

New Poll finds the UK public increasingly want a soft Brexit

George Trefgarne in MoneyWeek, 14th September 2018:

Norway for Now': how we can avoid a botched Brexit

Nick Boles MP in Conservative Home, 12th September 2018:

So you don't like Chequers. In which case you need a workable alternative. Here's mine. What's yours?

Nick Boles MP in The Telegraph, 1st September 2018:

I backed Chequers but can no longer support this humiliation

There is still time to negotiate Norway for Now...

weeks
1
9
days
0
1
hours
0
3
minutes
5
6
seconds
3
0

Foundations of Norway for Now

The Norway for Now plan is based on ideas and legal arguments that have been developed and tested by leading statesmen, academics and lawyers during the course of the two years since the referendum.

Former Foreign Secretary Lord David Owen is the most distinguished advocate of the idea that the UK should assert its right to stay in the European Economic Area after Brexit. A passionate and principled supporter of the Leave campaign, Lord Owen believes that the UK should negotiate a Canada-style free trade agreement from within the EFTA pillar of the EEA:

http://www.lorddavidowen.co.uk/

Former Lord Justice of Appeal Sir Richard Aikens, Professor George Yarrow of the Regulatory Policy Institute and Professor Guglielmo Verdirame of Kings College, London recently published a legal opinion on the strength of the UK's claim to full Treaty rights under the EEA Agreement after Brexit:

http://www.lorddavidowen.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/BfB-EEALegal-Briefing-21-August-2018.docx

Their arguments are supported by a large number of QCs and leading practitioners of international and European law.

The most influential of them is Professor Dr Carl Baudenbacher, former President of the EFTA Court, who set out his views on the potential of the EEA for the UK after Brexit:

https://www.kcl.ac.uk/law/tli/about/Baudenbacher-Kings-College-13-10-16.pdf

Professor Yarrow was also the author of the original papers that explored the advantages of staying in the EEA after Brexit:

http://www.rpieurope.org/Publications/Essays_New_Series/Essays_NS_7.2_Brexit_and_the_single_market_revisited.pdf

http://www.rpieurope.org/Publications/Yarrow_Brexit_and_the_single_market.pdf

George Trefgarne, chief executive of Boscobel & Partners and member of the Advisory Council of Open Europe, has recently published Norway then Canada: A new strategy to avoid a Brexit smash:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Norway-then-Canada-strategy-Brexit-ebook/dp/B07GZ1BPGC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1535726079&sr=1-1&refinements=p_27%3AGeorge+Trefgarne

A number of MPs and commentators have written articles about the potential for a Brexit based on interim membership of the EEA:

James Cartlidge, MP for South Suffolk:

https://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2018/07/james-cartlidge-lets-board-the-eea-lifeboat-and-set-sail-towards-a-new-common-market.html

Rupert Darwall, fellow of the Centre for Policy Studies:

https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2018/07/how-brexiteers-can-still-save-brexit/

https://reaction.life/no-deal-option-called-eea/

Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/07/17/norway-option-thing-left-will-save-brexit-getting-means-mrs/

Tim Stanley, Daily Telegraph:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/07/24/time-fellow-brexiteers-took-second-look-norway-option/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

Paul Goodman, editor of Conservative Home:

https://www.conservativehome.com/thetorydiary/2018/07/the-conservative-brexit-choice-seek-to-park-the-uk-in-the-eea-under-a-new-tory-leader-or-press-on.html

Nick Boles, MP for Grantham and Stamford and chairman of Norway for Now, floated the idea of a transition out of the EU via the EEA in July 2017:

https://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2017/07/nick-boles-why-britain-should-transition-to-full-brexit-over-three-years.html