The SNP believes in power being as close to people as possible, and we have always argued that only those decisions that have to be taken at EU level should be taken at EU level.
There are an awful lot of assertions made about how many laws agreed in the EU make it into domestic law. Indeed, the origins of many of the stories come from a speech by former Commission President Jacques Delors who stated, in July 1988, that within ten years 80% of economic legislation would be of EU origin.
He was wrong.
Currently, in the UK, around 15% of laws come from the EU or have an EU influence and a similar figure applies to regulations. The UK is not an exception; in recent years research has shown that Jacques Delors was wrong across Europe, both inside and outside the Eurozone:
10% of French laws are directly transposing EU directives, while 25% of them included elements of EU origin;
9.6% of all primary and secondary laws in Denmark had an EU origin.
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Because Norway’s deal would be a bad deal for Scotland. Unfortunately, following the UK vote to leave the EU we need to look at sub-optimal solutions to address the democratic conundrum provided by the 2014 and 2016 referenda results. If we did follow the Norway model we would have to pay substantially to trade with the EU, would still have to implement much of the EU rule book, but would lose all our say in what it looks like.
The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is a trade pact that negotiates treaties with various nations on behalf of its members: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. EFTA and the EU have agreed to create the European Economic Area (EEA), an extension of the EU single market. Switzerland opted out of the EEA agreement, preferring just EFTA. Norway is part of the EEA single market, as is Iceland and Lichtenstein.
A single market must have a single rule book. The nuts and bolts of trade need to be defined and it is this sort of regulation that the EU spends much of its time working on. This process does not involve EFTA countries, and nobody represents their interests. The EFTA countries are simply presented with the law and a deadline for implementation. They tend to implement faster and more accurately than any actual EU member state.
The regulations adopted are not peripheral and cannot be ignored. They are at the core of the single market and include energy, transport, company law, free movement of labour, free movement of capital, state aid, competition law, procurement rules, and lots more besides. And Norway signs up to the lot without a say over any of them.
On top of this, Norway contributes, vastly, to various individual EU programmes. One example of this is the research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, which has provided excellent opportunities for Scottish universities. Paying towards these extras and paying for the EEA mean that, between 2009 and 2014, Norway was the tenth largest contributor to the EU budget.
Of course, Norway has the democratic sovereign right to choose whatever arrangements it wants, and the means to buy its way out of trouble. But if an ‘Out’ vote looks like the EEA or EFTA, then it would create a vastly undemocratic structure at huge expense and for what gain? This would create a real democratic deficit but such an arrangement would protect Scotland from the worst of a Tory hard Brexit. Scotland needs to be a member of the single market and needs open borders to staff the NHS, our farms and the hospitality sector. More importantly, Scotland wants to remain within the European framework, something clearly expressed in 2016.
Whilst the Norway model has its faults, and I will be the first to admit them, unless we remain in the EU it is the best option available to us.
You have been misled. The EU is a fundamentally democratic organisation.
The EU is democratic and accountable at every level. Any claims otherwise would be hilarious except for the fact that some people believe them.
It is made up of 28 democratically elected Member State Governments, acting jointly with the directly democratically elected MEPs in the European Parliament.
The MEPs and Member State Governments oversee the work of the European Commission, and appoint the Commissioners. The Commission is the EU's Civil Service. The Scottish Civil Service is not elected either and to pretend that the EU one somehow should be is flatly silly.
Many of the problems we, in Scotland, face are not due to the EU’s lack of democracy, but instead due to UK priorities, often failing to work constructively with our EU partners. Poor outcomes are due to who speaks for Scotland in the EU. As an example, an independent Scottish Government would have prioritised our fishing industry in a way that the UK Government simply did not. Scotland’s fishing industry was described all the way back in 1970 as “expendable" by the UK Government in a leaked foreign office report.
The EU is not perfect, but it is democratic.
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