This is taken from a comment below one of my articles, by Derick Tulloch. It far surpasses my starter for information value so I wanted it to get more profile by posting it separately.
If we go into Indyref2 (or an independence election) on an EU premise. We. Will. Lose.
The biggest advantage of EFTA/EEA is a political one. It offers both the 12% who have moved from No to Yes because of Brexit AND the 11% who have moved from Yes to No because they want independence but not EU membership, something positive to vote for.
There is no point going into a referendum on a premise – the EU – that pretty much guarantees that we will lose. Yes support is not 62%.
Second, accession to EFTA is much simpler and faster than re-joining the EU.
Accession is via Article 56 of the EFTA Convention, “any State may accede to the Convention provided that the EFTA Council decides to approve its accession.” That’s it. Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein and Switzerland, meeting in the EFTA Council must agree our membership. There is no ‘Spanish Veto’, or UK veto, or French veto for that matter. They are not members. The EFTA Council meets 10 times a year. Pre-negotiate terms and we’d be in within a month of independence.
As with EU membership it’s necessary to join the EEA to get the benefits of the single market. Re-joining from within EFTA after we are independent, and with the backing of the Four is a much more do-able prospect than to go straight to EU membership. The EEA meet twice a year. Potentially we would be back in within six months.
By contrast re-joining the EU, even if the various hostile states do not veto that, would take a minimum of 3 years after independence. After which there would be the six months or so to re-join the EEA. Too long to be out of the single market.
Scotland is a very good fit for the EFTA four. We share interests in fisheries, renewable energy, financial services to name but three. Our membership would strengthen and stabilise EFTA. Look up the extent of the territorial waters of Iceland, Scotland and Norway – the NW Atlantic and most of the North Sea. Look up the proportion of Europe’s total renewable and geothermal energy resource in Iceland, Scotland, Norway and Switzerland. We have selling points for them, to approve our membership.
EFTA/EEA offers all the advantages of EU membership for individuals and businesses, including freedom of movement, participation in ERASMUS and Horizon 2020 etc. and various EEA programmes which the EFTA states choose to participate in. http://www.efta.int/eea/eu-programmes, without the downside
There is input to EU policies via the EEA shaping agreements. Arguably that is as much influence as any small EU member has. With EFTA strengthened by Scottish membership, it’s influence is also strengthened. http://www.efta.int/eea/decision-shaping
There is no requirement for political integration in EFTA as there is with the EU, no requirement to commit to joining the common currency, no ‘convergence criteria’ and no requirement to conform to the EU common foreign policy. Which is why Iceland was able to recognise the independence of the Baltic States, before the EU did. And why Switzerland was free, last week, to offer to mediate between Catalonia and Spain.
EFTA gives more flexibility on fishing and agriculture, with neither Norway nor Iceland being in the Common Fisheries Policy, but also having market access to the EEA. Fisheries is a minor sector of the Scottish economy. The related seabed and associated oil reserves and tidal resources are not. We have to bring the fishing communities with us.
Independence in Europe is a must have. But we don’t have to be in the EU to be ‘in Europe’