Making the case for Scotland to join EFTA by reader Derick Tulloch


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., 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.

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’


54 thoughts on “Making the case for Scotland to join EFTA by reader Derick Tulloch

  1. johnrobertson834 October 14, 2017 / 10:40 am

    AELE is the French name for EFTA:

    L’Association européenne de libre-échange (AELE) et l’Espace économique européen (EEE)

    L’AELE est une organisation intergouvernementale qui vise à promouvoir le libre-échange et l’intégration économique au profit de ses quatre Etats membres que sont l’Islande, le Liechtenstein, la Norvège et la Suisse. L’organisation se fonde sur la convention AELE ainsi que sur un réseau mondial d’accords de libre-échange et de partenariat.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. macgilleleabhar October 14, 2017 / 11:21 am

    Now I understand why I have not seen much about EFTA in the media and see why John thought it worth posting separately. I must admit that over the last few weeks I have been having some misgivings about the EU despite having had quite positive views on it previously. The EU is a juggernaut requiring supertanker time and space to make any change but as a small country Scotland must ally itself with similar countries, and there it is – EFTA. Four modern successful countries with no history of aggression with no obvious strings attached to membership of their group.
    Whats not to like?

    Liked by 3 people

    • johnrobertson834 October 14, 2017 / 12:06 pm

      Yes, I think the EU started off Social Democratic and drifted to Neo-liberal leaving people like me and you disappointed. I voted Remain but holding my nose. I’m impressed by the case for EFTA made here.

      Liked by 4 people

  3. Bugger (the Panda) October 14, 2017 / 11:23 am

    Many little steps steps allow us to be in charge of our direction of travel and speed.

    Offers a bridge to EU membership if we so wish and we can tell Rajoy to GTF as his Galician fishermen are excluded from our waters.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bugger (the Panda) October 14, 2017 / 12:10 pm

    Rajoy is Galician, funnily enough, so was Franco, albeit from a Spanish Military family. The Spanish fishing fleet is mainly Galician


  5. Bugger (the Panda) October 14, 2017 / 12:16 pm

    If anyone is interested Galicia is the crucible of the Celtic peoples. I had my genetic footprint traced and both male and female lines go back to there, during the ice ages.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alasdair Macdonald October 14, 2017 / 4:33 pm

      If you have ever been in Galicia you will have seen it looks very different from the rest of Spain. It is separated by the Cantabrian Mountains from the main Plateau of Spain. It is immediately noticeably greener. It has sea lochs (rias) like the west of Scotland. It is wet and windy and the temperature is generally cooler than the main body of Spain. A pretty high proportion of the population speak the local language, Gallego, and a fair number of them have only limited Castillian. Vigo is the largest fishing port in Europe and much of the landings are from the waters around Scotland. They take a very high percentage of Scottish shellfish.

      Areas like Galicia, Asturias, Vizcaya (the Basque area), Catalunya have retained a substantial local identity and have substantial devolved powers. If Sr Rajoy is too heavy handed with the Catalans, then he might well provoke action in other areas with strong local identity. Franco was very punitive against these various identities and sometimes played one off against another. During the Civil War, Galicia was a ‘quiet front’, which enabled the Nationalists (i.e. Franco) to attack the Asturias from different sides.

      When/if Scotland becomes independent, Galicia might well be one of the areas with which we wish to build trading, diplomatic and cultural links. As well as forging links with Nordic and Arctic states, there are also relationships on the Atlantic coasts – Ireland, Brittany, Vizcaya, Galicia, Portugal. Such relationships amongst less populous states might well provide a counterbalance with the big European states, particularly Germany, France, Italy, Spain and, for a short time more, UK. France, Italy and Spain could well have their ‘unity’ unbalanced by the increasing assertion of rights by nations within them.

      If they are as democratic as they like to claim they are they ought to begin seriously devolving powers into more federal and confederal arrangements. However, I suspect that their instinct is to support the Francoist Rajoy suppressive approach in the hope that enough of the middle classes feel they have too much to lose and continue to support the ‘status quo’.

      Liked by 3 people

      • johnrobertson834 October 15, 2017 / 1:38 pm

        Re the Atlantic Coast connections, have you read Barry Cunliffe’s ‘Facing the Ocean’ ?:


      • Bugger (the Panda) October 15, 2017 / 1:44 pm

        My town is actually on the ancient St Jacques de Compostelle pilgrim way. AKA, Santiago di Compostela.

        Loads of pilgrims passing through daily.


  6. johnrobertson834 October 14, 2017 / 12:54 pm

    I kind of knew the Gal bit was a suggestion of Celtic roots like Gaul, Galway, Galloway, and even Galatia (in Turkey) and even Galston in Ayrshire. I had my genetic footprint traced too! To what is now the Basque country. Told my wife ‘I’m a Basque’. Wearily she replied ‘I know, I know.’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam October 15, 2017 / 11:23 am

      Your wife thought you said Basket!


      • johnrobertson834 October 15, 2017 / 1:28 pm

        I wish. More likely another word beginning ‘bas’


  7. Bugger (the Panda) October 14, 2017 / 12:58 pm

    two areas are close


  8. Derick Tulloch October 14, 2017 / 1:49 pm

    Goodness! Thank you


    • johnrobertson834 October 14, 2017 / 2:27 pm

      Lots of very useful stuff well worth sharing wider. 124 reads so far. We can get well into the thousands.


    • macgilleleabhar October 14, 2017 / 2:44 pm

      Thanks Derick and John.
      My retired brain is grinding its gears round the possibilities of EFTA. Would I be correct in assuming that if Scotland was independent and in EFTA and England was either in or out of the EU our trade with them would carry on as normal? Would a border of some kind be required regardless ?
      You have kick started my brain between you and now I am Googling EFTA and I am amazed at what they have achieved.
      “Today, EFTA has 27 FTAs covering 38 countries and territories outside the EU.”
      That is impressive. I shall carry on researching it as it seems to open a more inviting door.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Hugh Wallace October 14, 2017 / 4:09 pm

        This was going to be my point but you beat me to it (though I’ll add a bit).

        With rUK out of the EU with no deal (or a poor deal at any rate) we Scots have to think how we are going to trade with our closest neighbour. If they are out of the EU & we are in it things will become very difficult indeed unless the Irish border question is sorted out properly (no sign of that happening) & we do the same thing between Scotland & England. But being a member of EFTA would give us a lot more flexibility to establish good trading links with rUK & with the EU, both of which are absolutely vital to Scotland. And before you think I only have commerce on my mind, I see trade as the foundation of common purpose between nations which leads to peaceful relationships & far less likelihood of war or aggression.

        I too have been rather scunnered by the actions of the EU in recent weeks. I voted Remain without hesitation because it is clearly in the UK’s best interests to be in the EU but for an Independent Scotland I’ve long been of the opinion that EFTA (and closer ties with Norway) were our best route forward. Sadly I can foresee major problems trying to sell Indy plus EFTA in the time we have left. All fingers & toes are firmly crossed in this household!

        Liked by 3 people

  9. gavin October 14, 2017 / 2:51 pm

    Great article Derick. I’ve had a couple of letters published in the Herald (I know !) with, as an aside, my view that Scotland should join EFTA after Indy, but this is vastly better than anything I’ve done. Send it off to all of our colonial press, see if any will publish.
    I’m a great believer in shaking the tree—see what falls out!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. broadbield October 14, 2017 / 9:01 pm

    Yes, also scunnered by the EU & Spain/Catalonia and considering EFTA, but let’s not write off the EU – it has an historical imperative. Yes, it needs more democracy, but not half as much as the UK does, and even an independent Scotland will need many democratic changes to give power to the people and not professional politicians and assorted power groups. And we won’t change the EU from outside.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Derick Tulloch October 15, 2017 / 6:56 am

    We will be unable to change the EU from within unless we become independent, become a member by joining via the A49 process, and then wield whatever influence a small country in the EU has.

    Which requires sufficient support to first obtain a referendum, and then win that referendum. That support is not there on the current pro-EU platform.

    No Yes vote = no EU membership. No single market membership by any route unless the UK changes course fundamentally. We’d be trapped in Little Britain for the foreseeable future.

    The chances of the EU tearing up its rule book and devising a wholly new, untried and bespoke process just for Scotland to stay in, or rejoin without going through the normal accession process are non-existent.

    We have to rejoin, and that takes time, not least just the sheer mechanics of getting 27 states, each one with a Veto, to agree. It’s too slow.

    The profoundly hostile response of the Commission and senior EU politicians to the Catalonian Independence movement makes the political point above more pressing, perhaps?

    I’ve generally been agnostic on whether we regain single market membership via the EU or EFTA route. The benefits to us are pretty much all in being a member of the single market, not the specific route.

    However to see major players actively, and repeatedly, take the side of baton-wielding thugs does shade towards EFTA as a more attractive destination in the medium to long term.

    The question is whether or not we seek to also join the customs union. And that will be heavily influenced by whether rUK does or not.


  12. Terry Entoure October 15, 2017 / 11:20 am

    I’m glad that options for an iScotland are being debated. To be perfectly honest, however, I’m this post doesn’t fully present the trade-offs or challenges of EEA/EFTA versus EU membership. To paraphrase Ben Goldacre, “it’s a bit more complicated than that”.

    EFTA is not a prize in itself. In fact, EFTA is a dead organisation that has seen its membership dwindle over the years. Iceland would certainly have left to join the EU by now if it hadn’t been for the 2008 financial crisis, meaning EFTA would be down to just 3 nations. A club of two micro states, one shared border (between a micro state and a country not in the EEA), a policy of almost complete trade independence, a combined population of just 14 million, and one nation on the edge of departure is not really worth joining for its own sake. The benefit of EFTA membership for iScotland is that it provides a legal template for EEA membership. EFTA membership on its own would largely be a waste of time. We should only be concerned with EEA membership and EFTA just happens to provide a ready mechanism to get there.

    Is EEA membership any more assured than EU membership? The obligations and institutions involved in that decision are nearly identical so why would one route be quick and the other protracted? The effort required and the timescales involved will be near identical.

    Is EEA membership less politically challenging than EU membership for an iScotland? EU membership brings with it extra obligations in the areas of crime and justice, agriculture and fisheries, and foreign policy. Everything else remains the same: the four freedoms; the adoption of all Directives, Decisions and Regulations pertaining to the operation of the Single Market. That accounts for about 80% of all EU activity: opting out of EU-specific obligations doesn’t save much. That remaining 20% comes with a complex set of trade-offs. We should think about them. For example, it’s true that ag/fish policy would be repatriated to Holyrood but at the same time we wouldn’t be able to sell our fish to the EU without tariffs that make it uncompetitive. Fish don’t recognise extruded national borders so does it make sense to leave a shared system of stock maintenance? Doesn’t it make sense to have input to the shared systems of stock maintenance so we get what we want? Everything in that 20% is a trade-off.

    What other trade-offs are there? Democratic representation, including the right of veto, in the EU’s decisions is not something to give up lightly. It is true that Norway/Iceland/Liechtenstein are consulted but they do not have the final say on any EU decision. The final say is taken by heads of state of EU nations and the EU Parliament. Small nations, of course, have a disproportionately large representation in the EU Parliament. The right of veto at the Council of Ministers also gives them significant power to get what they want. Let’s not forget that a lot of policy is driven from the European Council. It’s one thing being consulted on rule changes, it’s quite another being able to drive forward proposals and then have the final say on them. That is why the EU is attractive to smaller nations: it gives them the chance to make their voice heard in a larger collective that would be quite impossible on their own.

    The author doesn’t raise the “neo liberal EU” argument but some commenters here have brought it up. I don’t really know what “neo liberal” exactly means but if the EU is “neo liberal” then EEA, solely concerned with trade harmonisation, certainly is. Besides, if the EU is “neo liberal” then it’s been that way since its inception with the Treaty of Rome and probably even before that when its scope was limited to an energy market. Is the Working Time Directive neo liberal? How about the Waste Framework Directive? Maybe you’re concerned about big business and tax avoidance? If so, which institution is right now sending Google and Amazon demands for billions of Euros in unpaid tax and ensuring that tax can’t be avoided by hopping across national boundaries? Here’s the million dollar question: Isn’t EFTA “neo liberal”? I live in Switzerland and I can tell you now that it isn’t a hotbed of radical socialism.

    Are there reasons to favour EFTA/EEA over EU? Yes, there are and they are all to be found in a relatively straight line between Gretna and Lamberton. The author actually hints at this in a comment but only in relation to the Customs Union. The simple truth is that the best option is the one that causes minimum disruption to the physical and regulatory border that separates iScotland from its most significant trading partner. It’s an uncomfortable truth but iScotland, in this respect, can only make this decision after rUK has come to an agreement about its future relationship with the rest of the world. If rUK becomes a regulatory annexe of the EU stuck in a semi-permanent “transition” period then iScotland should consider joining the EU because Customs Union membership will keep the border open. If rUK embarks on a journey of regulatory and tariff divergence from the EU then iScotland should leave the Customs Union (and the EU as a consequence) so that it may strike a FTA with rUK and attempt to keep that border open.

    There’s an interesting corollary of EEA membership that might not please iScotland supporters. It’s in the interest of both sides to keep the iScotland/rUK border (in all senses) as light as possible. It would, therefore, actually make sense if their trading relationships with the rest of the world were as harmonised as possible. That suggests that iScotland signs a FTA with rUK but then also becomes a signatory to all rUK FTAs. Geography and history kind of dictates that, outside the EU, iScotland will be more tied to rUK than it might want. Does EU membership sound more attractive now?

    Just as an aside: the Customs Union is only available to EU member states. It’s possible to have a customs union with the Customs Union but that is something else entirely. Turkey is in that exact position: it has to accept all tariff agreements the EU strikes with 3rd parties but doesn’t get to participate to its advantage in the other direction. It’s ability to strike trade deals on its own is completely undermined by this relationship.



    Liked by 2 people

    • johnrobertson834 October 15, 2017 / 11:39 am

      Ah, thanks for making a debate of this. I’ll wait and see if you get a reply.


    • Hugh Wallace October 15, 2017 / 12:16 pm

      Thanks for adding to this Terry. Enlightening as always.

      For those of you who are not aware of Terry, he runs an excellent blog which might be the single best place to learn about the EU and Brexit and the implications for us here in Scotland. I consider him to be high in my top ten for daily political reading (this site being another).

      Liked by 1 person

    • Derick Tulloch October 15, 2017 / 5:08 pm

      Terry. There’s much to agree with in your comment, particularly the point that a great deal depends on where the UK ends up in relation to the single market and customs union.

      However: Irrespective of whether one thinks EFTA/EEA or EU/EEA is the best final destination, it there is not a Yes vote in a referendum, or in an independence election, there will be no single market membership by either route.

      Three quarters of a loaf, in one’s hand, is a very great deal better than no loaf in a shop window. Particularly if opening up the shop requires 27 principal key holders to turn 27 locks simultaneously after checking that the chap from Wallonia is OK with that.

      To expand on the Fisheries comment, which is really about Orkney & Shetland (where I’m from). Or rather about the mineral resources thereabouts. Go into a referendum on a full EU premise, Common Fisheries Policy and all, and we will lose in the isles. And lose badly. Goodbye Clair Ridge.

      Yes, EFTA is currently unstable. Our joining would help stabilise that. Nobody owes us a living – we need to sell our membership to the Four. It’s not possible to prove it would be easier to join the EEA from EFTA, but it makes intuitive sense – a smaller step from within an established structure

      Liked by 1 person

      • Terry Entoure October 16, 2017 / 9:27 am

        “It’s not possible to prove it would be easier to join the EEA from EFTA, but it makes intuitive sense – a smaller step from within an established structure”

        Perhaps I’ve misunderstood but I think you’ve got this the wrong way round.

        EEA membership (without joining EU) is contingent on EFTA membership because EFTA provides an agreed legal structure to participate in the EU internal market without being an EU member state. iScotland would need to join EFTA because it is a strict requirement of EEA membership in the absence of EU membership. EFTA would be a legal requirement towards the prize of EEA membership rather than something to consider on its own. There is no point in joining EFTA if iScotland opted to join the EU. I can’t really see any significant advantage of EFTA if neither EEA nor EU is the goal.

        EU and EEA membership present near identical requirements. Scotland is already compliant with all of these requirements so none of these obligations presents a problem at the moment. EU and EEA also require agreement among the same heads of state. This is the bit that really dictates the speed of accession. I’m afraid I don’t have any intuitive sense that EEA membership will be faster.

        If anything, EFTA/EEU would take longer because EFTA comes with different compliance bodies and courts eg the Surveillance Authority and the EFTA court. Scotland would need to take logistical and administrative steps to integrate itself into these institutions. No work would be required with the EU because Scotland is already compliant with all EU institutions and laws.

        I totally get the point about bringing fishing communities on board. I’m not a campaigner or a political activist so I can’t comment too much on this. I will say, though, that the advantages of EU membership for ag and fish have never been made. Personally, I think leaving the EU would be more negative than positive for farming and fishing communities and, more generally, for the environment. There are pros and cons but the pros have never been expressed.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Derick Tulloch October 16, 2017 / 12:58 pm

        Yes, EEA membership would be the aim, and I’d suggest that EFTA is by far the fastest route to that. Accession to EFTA, would be to facilitate an EEA application. Setting aside the political obstacles, that’s just a matter of logistics.

        The last step, to join the EEA, is the same with either route. The first step, is potentially faster, due to fewer parties to agree with, and simpler criteria.

        If Kirsty Hughes and Tobias Locke are correct (and they should know!) rejoicing the EU “…on a ‘normal’ accession process, Scotland might take up to four years from becoming independent to joining” [the EU}. Followed by EEA accession, That’s too slow if we have a faster alternative, which we do.

        Control over fishing and agriculture in Norway’s case, and fishing in Iceland’s case, is a fundamental reason why the didn’t join the EU. As far as I can see their conservation measures are rather more effective than those in the Common Fisheries Policy, or rather in the current derogation from the CFP. For example, Norwegian fishermen have been utterly horrified by the CFP requirement to dump over quota fish back in the sea, dead.

        Norwegian agricultural policy has been more geared to support of small farmers and what we could call crofters, than the CAP. I’d call that a positive.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. johnrobertson834 October 15, 2017 / 3:15 pm

    Isn’t the EU/Spain/Catalonia situation critical in deciding? You’ve noticed before my lack of subtlety on these things. I’m finished with the EU now. Finished!


    • Bugger (the Panda) October 15, 2017 / 3:18 pm

      Can I suggest that the position we take, post Indie, is that the EU has to justify what they are offering Scotland as against our other alternatives?


      • johnrobertson834 October 15, 2017 / 7:26 pm

        Yes! I was once on China Central TV (audience 2 billion Reporting Scotland!) at the time of the Ref and the cheeky wee host questioned if the EU would want us. I said Scotland is a gem and went on that the EU had just accepted blood-soaked Croatia into the EU and was currently courting the Ukraine!


      • Terry Entoure October 16, 2017 / 9:43 am

        I’m not sure the EU has to actively justify what they are offering. To be honest, the offer is relatively clear because the pros and cons of EU membership are well understood (ok, not by anyone in the UK government right now) and written down in a sequence of treaty agreements. Those treaties can’t be changed without first becoming a member. There is always wiggle room on the details but these are the real-time minutiae of treaty change rather than the general principles of membership. We ought to be able to work out the pros and cons of EU membership ourselves. If we can’t do that then we’re going to look as inept as Davis/May/Fox/Johnson.

        Everyone is different and what works for Austria might, of course, not work for iScotland. The iScotland/rUK border might lead to EU membership being more of a hindrance than an advantage. That is very hard to tell because we don’t know where rUK are heading. I see that as today’s biggest problem and, worryingly, it is completely out of our hands.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Terry Entoure October 16, 2017 / 9:03 am

      Erm, no, it’s not critical in deciding. There are several reasons for this:

      1. The EU has no power to do anything because its members made it that way. Literally no EU laws have been broken and it has no authority to intervene. This is a case for Spanish law in the first instance and then the Council of Europe (which is completely independent of the EU).
      2. Single issue ideology is the opposite of rational pragmatism and is rarely a good way to make a decision.
      3. Is there any international agreement that doesn’t involve a messy set of compromises? Why single out the EU?


      • johnrobertson834 October 16, 2017 / 1:23 pm

        It’s critical for my affections. The EU has drifted from Social Democratic consensual politics to Neo-liberal brutalism and now its members make clear their lack of concern for human rights abuses by their bigger members. I know the EU has no power but Germany could speak out on matters such as these. As for France, I piss in their general direction!


  14. gavin October 15, 2017 / 3:53 pm

    Thing is, within a year or two, we are going to be a lot more informed as to how trade will go for the UK/EU, though world trade is a different matter.
    All the big players seem to becoming more protectionist (certainly while Trump is at large), so we should not be in a hurry to declare our hand until electoral considerations force the issue.
    Brexit might clarify a lot of things, but we could easily have an election in the UK before Brexit is actually decided, so its imperative that the “good guys” have their ducks in a row for this eventuality. At the last GE the SNP were side-lined by a media determined to make it a two horse race.
    A coherent and easily understood policy position on the constitution and future trading relationships is a must to protect Scottish interests from London centricity.


    • johnrobertson834 October 15, 2017 / 7:27 pm

      Yes a guarantee of a Scottish referendum on EU or EFTA or FA membership in the manifesto.


  15. Daisy Walker October 16, 2017 / 6:52 pm

    If we don’t get Indy. We’ll get the scrapings from England’s shoe, and nothing but Hard Brexit, or permanent Tories with our devolved parliament buggered for ever.

    Not to put to fine a point on it,

    Once the terms of Brexit are known, and the FM goes for Indy 2. The English electorate and its establishment will insist on another ref on Brexit, to be held at the same time.

    This will muddy the waters on Scotland’s Indy vote and split it, while giving them an out on Brexit.

    EFTA – whether, in reality – good, bad or indifferent, may move the ground sufficiently to allow voters to change their minds without losing face, and ‘sound’ nice enough to get a big chunk of voters over to YES.

    Remember a large percentage of voters couldn’t be arsed to check details about Brexit – they went for a big lie printed on the side of a bus.

    If this is to be on the table – it will need to be campaigned for now, quietly, behind the scenes, away from the glare of the media. That’s a lot of ground to cover.

    And unfortunately, at the same time, another UK wide Brexit ref, which returns a stay vote, would make the Scottish one, out of date almost immediately.

    We really need the cart and horse to be in the right order, with regards Indy, and not to loose sight of that.

    I’m kind of thinking aloud a bit on hear. Hope the above makes sense.

    Very interesting posts, thanks to all. I keep learning (more than I ever wanted to about the EU, to be honest).


  16. grizebard October 16, 2017 / 8:43 pm

    Another outing on the subject from a well-known EFTA Boy Scout.

    What his argument entirely misses is that EFTA (or even EFTA/EEA) is freely recognised by all as a 2nd-rate solution. It has only some of the advantages of full EU membership but has most of the disadvantages plus some more of its own on the top.
    It’s a kind of fence-sitting quasi-Brexit that appears to be based on the simplistic and entirely untested notion that it provides a “least common denominator” that will somehow appeal to the widest range of voters, when in fact it could just as likely backfire and appeal to the least number, failing to satisfy the hardline isolationists who don’t want an international arrangement of any kind (=”loss of sovereignity”) while turning its back on the clear majority of Scots who voted to remain in the EU.

    A panacea which seems to be most touted by a few of those who lost the EU referendum, but somehow can’t accept the majority result and are casting around for a handy backdoor option instead.

    For those unhappy with the EU’s lacklustre response to the situation in Catalonia, keep in mind that the EU does at least have the potential to act. EFTA is a purely business trading agreement and has no interest or ability whatever to act.

    The longer the Brexit farrago continues, the clearer it’s becoming by the day that it is economic madness of the first order. The worst policy decision that any UK government has taken in the last 60-odd years. It’s falling apart, riven by its own internal contradictions. To try to hang any appeal for independence onto this process in some kind of half-way manner like this is to doom it to failure. What most ordinary people need is the assurance of continuity and economic stability, not the prospect of a jump in the dark based on yet another speculative proposition. We have had enough of those!

    Before taking this premature notion any further, I recommend you read the recently-released pamphlet “Scotland in Europe” by Alyn Smith MEP and Dr. Adam Marks, which tries to be fair and honest about the complex issues involved. It can be read/downloaded at:

    It is a true eye-opener to the situation we are in. Filled with fully-referenced facts, not mere wishful thinking. An essential read.


    • johnrobertson834 October 17, 2017 / 4:12 pm

      EFTA (or even EFTA/EEA) is freely recognised by all as a 2nd-rate solution? Got a source for this statement? Why would Norway stay in then?


      • grizebard October 17, 2017 / 5:21 pm

        I gave the reference already. It’s a fair summary of the situation, and not an EU “whitewash” by any means. Since it seems from your response that you haven’t read it already, please do give it a look-through.

        Likewise highly recommended to anyone else who wants to cut through all the propaganda swilling around and get to something closer to reality. Which is where we all need to be on this, as with everything else.

        Liked by 1 person

      • grizebard October 17, 2017 / 9:09 pm

        As for Norway, their last EU referendum in 1994 was very close (52:48 no/yes). The “yes” side was supported by virtually all economists and professionals and had majority support in urban areas, whereas in rural areas with a more conservative population, support for “no” increased the further north they lived. The “no” side was led by the then leader of a reactionary country party which has always been hardline anti-EU, and their main (and highly-emotive) issue was “sovereignity”.

        Ring any bells?

        In their 1931-33 cabinets, BTW, this party had Quisling as Minister of Defence, though he wasn’t himself a party member, and currently it is highly protectionist, even wishing to take Norway out of the EEA.

        Is this the kind of example people in the “yes” movement now hope to emulate? If so, we’re truly lost.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Derick Tulloch October 17, 2017 / 9:02 pm

      Surprised to discover I have been promoted to “Boy Scout” and delighted that the ideas are becoming “well-known”! That’s the spirit.

      Alyn’s book is a curate’s sheep’s egg. Good in parts but gey woolly in others.

      Taking the “5 key points” on pp 4-5:

      1 Peace in Europe. Yes, up to a point. Integrate the economies to increase the costs of war and increase understanding. There’s been no major European war since 1945. Although the EU didn’t actually exist until rather more recently so it’s hard to see how an organisation that didn’t exist did a thing for 40 years.

      2 Jobs. Wrong. The jobs are dependent on single market membership, not EU membership

      3 Trade and Regulation. Wrong. Those are characteristics of the EEA, not just the EU

      4 Food, Farming & The Environment. Wrong. The highest subsidies to agriculture (and targeted at small farmers) are in Norway, with Switzerland not far behind. They can do this precisely because they are not in the CAP. The same applies to fisheries regulation/conservation, which are better in Iceland and Norway, specifically because they are not in the CFP. Those two sectors are WHY Norway and Iceland haven’t joined the EU!

      5 Freedom of Movement. Wrong. That is dependent on EEA membership, not EU membership. Citizens of the EFTA/EEA states have better FoM rights than half the EU states (including us) because they are effectively in Schengen.

      And the two glaring omissions from the pamphlet

      a) There isn’t enough Yes/EU support to obtain and win a referendum

      b) There is no mention of the time it would take to rejoin the EU. As per Hughes and Locke – four years before we could even submit an EEA application.

      I understand why Alyn is wedded to a return to the EU.

      But there is a wider picture, and a route to single market membership which is clearer, faster and better suited to our needs.

      Yes, EFTA is purely, or mostly, a trade organisation. No bad thing, to get the benefits without suffering the cant about “rights” and “non-intervention” which seem rather selectively applied in the counsels of the EU.

      PS. The Mid Yell Scout troop, misguidedly set up by a well meaning but dippy Minister, may have played the final ever game of “British Bulldog” in the entire universe circa 1972. Still got a slight limp from that. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

      • grizebard October 21, 2017 / 3:11 pm

        Interesting to read your condescending “review” of a mere couple of pages from the Smith & Marks pamphlet. How easy to dismiss a fully-referenced work by the airy wave of a hand as “gey woolly in parts”. Not too surprised though that a diehard anti-EU pro-EFTA exponent from time immemorial (well, for a fair old time before the indyref at least) would find a careful assemblage of inconvenient (to you) facts hard to accept. Well-entrenched views are often hard to shift, even in the light of day rather the darkness of fantasy.

        As to your chosen points:

        1) This is seriously wierd. The beginnings of the EU were in 1952, the soonest point at which Western European countries, all of whom had been smashed socially and economically by the war to a considerable extent (much of Germany being totally reduced to rubble). In the UK this was the year that the wartime economy (eg. rationing, ID cards) effectively ended, though austerity lasted longer. The motivation for a close community of nations was there from the very start, among the vast majority of ordinary folk as well as well-known founding fathers like Robert Schumann. To dismiss this in the superficial way that you have done exposes either profound socio-historical ignorance or mere hollow debating rhetoric.

        2) & 3) Wrong yourself. Plain wrong. Both of these fall directly from the EU. EFTA and EEA may have their own wee directorates, but each follows (in its own way) EU rules! Well, maybe if the EU hadn’t done all the essential heavy lifting to set all the necessary trading arrangements in place, the “single market” (by which I presume you mean your pet fave EFTA) and/or EEA would have had to put everything into place all by themselves, requiring of course an expanded directorate and a hell of a lot of work. Which would have ended up much as the EU is now. Shucks! No wonder they prefer to pay the EU for services rendered instead.

        EEA/EFTA cannot exist without the EU. They are like shaky little lean-to’s on the side of a sturdy building. Remove the building and “plop!”, they all fall down.

        4) A very selective reading. More avoided facts, as seems to be your style.

        Environmental regulations, which you avoid completely, are also set by the EU, just as with (2) & (3). EEA/EFTA follow. Period.

        Yes, Norway & Switzerland can set their own level of tariffs, and do so in a highly protectionist way. Which means that foodstuffs in such countries are also expensive, as anyone who has been there can well attest. This is Economics 101. (But isolationists don’t care about such niceties.)

        (Furthermore, what neither the authors nor you seem to have noticed is that agricultural subsidies to Scottish farmers via the CAP are in part disproportionately diverted by London. The farmers don’t get their fair due. The fisherfolk (maybe one yourself?) have likewise been traded off by London in previous deals with the EU. London’s bad, not the EU. And London looks to do it all over again with Brexit. Another great big shyste is on the way. Just to demonstrate that there’s no hard feelings from the Great Hub of the Empire, suckers!)

        5) A very curate’s-eggy response from you here. Yes, EEA (but not EFTA) provides freedom of movement. But just as with the earlier points, EEA acquires it all courtesy of the EU. The “Schengen” that you mention is an EU initiative, FGS! (Hint: Schengen is a town in Luxembourg, folks!)

        Re: your supposed “two glaring omissions”. As for (a), I take the strongest possible exception to your supposition of “insufficient support”. If the good prof quite reasonably asks a poster like me for references, it applies just as much to anyone else, you included. So where are they for this? You don’t provide any, because (not being an all-seeing Creator) you simply can’t. I have asserted an equally-plausible alternative scenario, and moreover, given the nature of people, one which is arguably more plausible. Which you just ignore and instead pump out your Great EFTA Fallacy, Goebbels-style, wherever you can find a cosy berth, hoping that at least some uninformed people will take it as gospel and start to worship it as a convenient panacea.

        Well, there is one readily-referenced fact: 62% of Scots voted to remain in the EU, and that crooked plebiscite disenfranchised all 16-17 year olds (who are known to be more supportive of Remain than any other age group) plus all resident EU citizens (who are likely to vote en masse for the EU next tome round). So the real figure as it would apply in an indyref2 fought as before would be even higher. So your blank assertion is laughable nonsense. What figure would convince you that it might work? – 99% maybe! (Coming from where you are, probably not even that.)

        You need to have more respect for a debate and the readership of this blog. We’re supposed to be better than “Project Fear”, not start messing around with those tactics on our own side.

        As for your point (b), this is smokescreening if ever I saw it. You argue some of your case based on EEA rather than EFTA where it suits, then say even that is going to be hard to join. If there’s going to be such dreadful difficulty making any useful international agreement as you assert, then we’re “dooooomed”. Whereas back on Planet Earth, Scotland already being a member in good standing of the EU, despite all the BritNat huffing and puffing about “queues” and other such deceits, it’s clear that a reasonably fast and straightforward negotiation with the EU will be quite sufficient, thanks.

        You might well “understand” why Alyn Smith, is “wedded” to (correction:) our remaining in it. He has been there and observed the EU, warts and all, from close up. He’s straight enough about that. Unlike yourself, who have not been at all upfront about your own longstanding obsession over EFTA, as seen from afar on your wee island.

        Your last sneery aside about EFTA being just fine as a trading-only deal reveals your true colours, if anything does. You obviously don’t care a jot about Catalonia or our brothers and sisters anywhere else on the European Continent, despite your crocodile tears. Just so long as they’ll do business with you, you’ll be “all right Jack”, and the rest of we EU citizens are just so much unfortunate collateral damage.


  17. johnrobertson834 October 17, 2017 / 8:54 am

    Thanks Daisy. You make a lot of sense. This has been the most informative thread we’ve ever had.


  18. Derick Tulloch October 22, 2017 / 8:53 am

    Apologies, John.

    I am not inclined to debate with an anonymous poster who strays quite as far into as hominem as our friend above does, so I shall depart from this discussion.

    But I will leave two facts behind.

    1) I voted Remain in 2016 without hesitation. But circumstances change, and practical realities become clearer.

    2) It took Finland and Sweden three and a half years to join the EU, NB from within EFTA.

    Membership application 01 July 1991
    EU agreed to open negotiations 01 February 1993
    Negotiations concluded 01 March 1994
    EU Parliament voted to allow admission May 1994
    Sweden joined the EU 01 January 1995.

    Sweden was already a member of the EEA by then, by virtue of its EFTA membership


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