Performance of the Economy

A renewed European Free Trade Association as the Eastern Pillar of a North Atlantic Free Trade Area

  • Britain would look to rejoin the European Free Trade Association consisting principally of Britain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark (these latter two countries would probably follow Britain out of the EU), Iceland and Switzerland. This Association would be both a forum for negotiating matters between the members of the Association and the body negotiating matters of common concern with the EU.
  • This Association would be a significant body containing about 86 million people, virtually all of Europe’s oil assets, and virtually all of its fish stocks.
  • EFTA as reconstituted corresponds exactly with those West European countries shown on the front cover in red, who will keep their own currencies on 1 January 1999 when eleven EU countries intend to combine their currencies into the Euro. The new EFTA would be a group of like-minded countries, all having ancient parliamentary institutions, and with an average income significantly higher and average unemployment significantly lower than the averages for the eleven Euro-zone countries.
  • Leaders in both Canada and the USA indicated in 1998 that they would welcome Britain’s joining the (renamed) North American Free Trade Area. Other members of the new EFTA would be equally welcome. This is a reversal of American opinion of tremendous import. Substitute Atlantic for American and you have what the vast majority of Britons would accept enthusiastically, in place of their reluctant membership of the European Union. Britain and the USA are each other’s greatest investment partner and one of each other’s greatest trading partners. With Canada our shared common heritage of language, law and comradeship in war would be a coming home from the bitter wasted years of EU regulations, bickering and interference in our national life.
  • While NAFTA and EFTA would be attractive to Britain, they would not in fact be necessary to securing our economic future. This is because the Uruguay round of tariff reductions and the setting up of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1995 will have reduced the average tariffs on industrial goods to about 3% by 2002. In fact around 60% of all trade in industrial goods throughout the world is already tariff free.
  • In essence we virtually have a world industrial free trade area now, policed by the WTO at a tiny fraction of the cost of the EU, which as a trade promoting institution is rendered totally redundant. The WTO stands as guarantor for the access of British goods to the EU market, since each EU country is individually a signatory of the WTO treaty.
  • The main standards organisation in the world outside the EU is the International Standards Organisation (ISO) which Britain and the USA set up 30 years ago. Britain would once again concentrate on ISO rather than having to waste time with the French inspired CEN and CE systems, which are promoted solely for reasons of EU pride and are unrecognised outside.
  • While not admitting any jurisdiction over our affairs, Britain would play a full part in the Council of Europe, which she helped to set up in 1949 to promote good relations among our geographical neighbours. The Council of Europe covers all European countries including Russia, the countries of Eastern Europe, those of the European Union and the European Free Trade Association. By a nice symmetry, the Council’s security counterpart – the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe – also has the USA and Canada as members.

References

1 Stephen Bush & Gill Bush, The Meaning of the Maastricht Treaty, Prosyma Research Ltd, 1992, reprinted 1993

2 ICI Annual Reports 1989-96

3 Katherine West, Economic opportunities for Britain and the Commonwealth, Royal Institute of International Affairs Discussion Paper 1995

4 OECD Economic Outlook 1995 and Daily Telegraph, 3 September 1997

5 Stephen Bush, No Middle Way, Prosyma Research Ltd, 1990, reprinted 1991

6 W Rees-Mogg, The Queen’s growth area, The Times, 9 November 1995

7 Jean Monnet, Memoirs, Collins, 1978, see particularly pages 272-3


Footnotes

[1] Sir Winston Churchill

[2] e.g. Melanie Phillips in the Observer, 27 July 1997.

[3] e.g. Kenneth Clarke’s interview with John Humphrys on the “Today Programme on BBC Radio4, 11 December 1996 and SFB’s reply in the Daily Telegraph on 13 December 1996.

[4] The Commonwealth is not separately distinguished in the ICI figures for ROW, and Canada is included in America’s

[5] e.g. Sir Michael Angus and 26 other members of the CBI, Times, 2/11/92 and SFB’s reply of 4/11/92; Sir Patrick Sheehey, Sunday Telegraph, 12/2/95 and SFB’s reply of 19/2/95; Sir Richard Evans, Sir Richard Sykes and 13 others, Financial Times, 5/9/96 and SFB’s reply of 7/9/96.

[6] The Independent, 21 February 1994

[7] i.e. graduates of the ENA – Ecole Nationale d’Administration

[8] e.g. the recent leaflet issued by Deutsche Aerospace to commemorate the Berlin airlift in which the USA is singled out, while the RAF is lumped in with those “who helped later” despite contributing over 45% of the total lift from day one.

[9] See SFB’s reply, Daily Telegraph, 13 December 1996.

[10] e.g. Current insistence that the chairman of the projected European Central Bank should be French, along with a French head of the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development, and also of the International Monetary Fund, European Space Agency, and CERN, all at the same time.

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