Brexit took us out of Europe but EFTA is the best way back in for an independent Scotland

Brexit took us out of Europe but EFTA is the best way back in for an independent Scotland 

It is ALBA's position that Scotland shall join EFTA immediately after the Scottish Parliament acquires the competence to sign international treaties and the powers to abide by them. This will allow Scotland to gain access to the European Economic Area and effective free trade with the EU, thus mitigating the negative effects of Brexit.

Scotland lost single market membership which includes the four freedoms; to live or work in any EU country; to sell goods anywhere in the EU; to provide services anywhere in the EU; and the free movement of capital.

EFTA membership could be negotiated in weeks rather than years and could be negotiated in parallel with independence negotiations with the UK, and would be welcomed by existing EFTA member countries, provided independence is achieved democratically and peacefully. On becoming an EFTA member, Scotland could rejoin the EEA within a few months.

What is EFTA? 

The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is the intergovernmental organisation of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

How is EFTA different from the EU?

The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) was established in 1960 by the EFTA Convention for the promotion of free trade and economic integration between its Member States (today Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), within Europe and globally.

EFTA does not envisage political integration. 

EFTA’s first objective was to liberalise trade between its Member States. In 1972, each EFTA State negotiated bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) with the EEC. Currently, the EFTA States together have 29 FTAs in force or awaiting ratification covering 40 partner countries worldwide (outside Europe).

Can the EFTA Member States also sign bilateral free trade agreements?

Yes, the EFTA States are not obliged by the EFTA Convention to conclude preferential trade agreements as a group. They maintain the full right to enter into bilateral third-country arrangements.

What is the European Economic Area – EEA?

The European Economic Area (EEA) was established by the EEA Agreement, which entered into force in 1994. Its objective is to extend the Internal Market of the EU to the three participating EFTA States creating a homogeneous European Economic Area. This is based on common rules and equal conditions of competition and provides for the adequate means of enforcement at the judicial level. The EEA Agreement guarantees equal rights and obligations within the Internal Market for individuals and economic operators in the EEA. As of today, the EEA comprises of 27 EU Member States and the three EEA EFTA States – Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

What is covered by the EEA Agreement?

All relevant Internal Market legislation is integrated into the EEA Agreement so that it applies throughout the whole of the EEA. The core of these rules relates to the free movement of goods, capital, services and persons throughout the 30 EEA States. In addition, the EEA Agreement covers horizontal areas such as social policy, consumer protection, environment, company law, statistics, tourism and culture. In order to ensure equal conditions of competition throughout the EEA, the EEA Agreement mirrors the competition and state aid rules of the EU treaties. It also provides for participation in EU programmes such as those for research and education.

What is not covered by the EEA Agreement?

The EEA Agreement does not cover EU common agriculture and fisheries policies, although it contains provisions on trade in agricultural and fish products. It does not entail a customs union, nor does it include a common trade policy, common foreign and security policy, justice and home affairs, harmonised taxation or the economic and monetary union.

What does the EFTA Convention say about new member states?

According to Article 56 of the EFTA Convention,

“any State may accede to the Convention provided that the EFTA Council decides to approve its accession, on such terms and conditions as may be set out in that decision.”

The EFTA Council is the highest governing body of EFTA, where the four EFTA States – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – meet at ambassadorial or ministerial level. Each Member State is represented and decisions are taken by consensus.



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