Scotland would face “challenges” to join EEA like Norway

SCOTLAND would struggle to stay in the EU single market in similar way to Norway after Brexit, one of the Scandinavian country’s leading academics told MSPs yesterday.

Dr Ulf Sverdrup, director of the Norwegian Institute for International Affairs, said there would be “challenges” for the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) or European Economic Area (EEA) to integrate Scotland as it was not a sovereign state.

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed on Wednesday that she was looking at EFTA and EEA options to maintain Scotland’s single market membership in the event of a hard Brexit.

Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Switzerland are part of EFTA, and the first three are also part of the EEA alongside the 28 EU states.

Norway is in the single market but has to pay into the EU budget, accept free movement, and cannot influence EU regulations it has to obey.

An SNP government paper in 2013 said the this was a poor alternative to Scotland having full membership of the single market as an independent state.

Dr Sverdrup, a former professor at the Norwegian Business School and a research professor at the Centre for European Studies at Oslo University, gave evidence to Holyrood’s Europe committee.

Asked about Scotland forming its own deal with EFTA separate from the UK, he said: “To my understanding it creates some challenges for EFTA countries to integrate a country that’s not seen as a sovereign country.”

He it said “would probably help a lot” if the UK backed Scotland’s membership of EFTA.

He also said the UK as a whole might join EFTA, adding: “What is extremely important for the UK and also for the Scots now is to think in terms of finding compromises.”

He said there would need to be political, administrative and market compromises.

“You have to find solutions that are practically, legally and constitutionally feasible.

“You’re not in the process of optimising or maximising your interests. You’re in search of satisfactory solutions.

“I expect any solution will be a messy one. Often a good compromise is something that nobody really prefers and nobody really loves, and that’s the true Norwegian experience.”

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