Nicola Sturgeon’s latest proposal for Scotland to stay in the EU single market using the same path as Norway has suffered another blow after an expert from the Scandinavian country cast major doubts on the plan.
Ulf Sverdrup, director of the Norwegian Institute for International Affairs, warned it would be difficult for the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) to admit a country that was not a sovereign state.
He cited the case of the Faroe Islands, which considered the possibility of joining the trade organisation but did not as it is part of the Kingdom of Denmark.
Article 56 of the EFTA Convention says that only nation states can become members, meaning that Scotland would have to be independent before it could apply.
The further blow to the First Minister’s proposal came as the Telegraph disclosed that she unveiled a report three years ago that strongly warned against pursuing the Norway model, which involves joining EFTA and the European Economic Area (EEA).
A Scottish Government report, which featured a foreword from Ms Sturgeon, said the EEA “effectively extends the geographical reach” of the single market to Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway and allows them tariff-free access with complex strings attached.
But it warned that “Scotland’s citizens would lose all ability to influence the laws and regulations to which they would be subject” because EEA members have little input into the single market’s rules.
Critics have coined the phrase “fax democracies” for EEA countries, it said, because “a substantial proportion of their domestic laws appear by fax from Brussels.”
The report also warned this would make Scotland less attractive to foreign investors as “the Scottish Government would lose all influence over the laws and regulations” to which the companies would be bound.
A series of academic experts have also warned that Scotland not being a sovereign state is a “big stumbling block” to joining EFTA or the EEA, with one warning Ms Sturgeon’s proposal was a “recipe for a constitutional car crash.”