Many point to the European Economic Area (EEA) and a Norway-style relationship with the EU (basically all the trade advantages, but also all the regulatory compliance and free movement of labour but no influence over EU policy and direction of travel.)
Norway has repeatedly warned us that EEA membership is no bed of roses. Here is a key figure from Norway writing to The Economist last week:
A future outside the EU
The Norwegian option for Britain once it leaves the European Union would indeed do the least damage to the British economy (“Adrift”, July 2nd). Norwegian businesses, which I represent, have lived well with the European Economic Area for 20 years. It secures full access to the single market. But, remember, we have to take on board all relevant EU legislation in order to keep a level playing field. If we don’t, the EU can respond by suspending the relevant chapter of the agreement. Since market access is so important, we have never used this right.
We even had to establish a separate surveillance authority and court that can issue binding decisions if our government does not implement EU legislation correctly. Free movement of people is a core element of the agreement and we have to contribute substantial amounts to the EU’s poorer countries. If you are ready to take up the obligations and give up your voting rights you are welcome to the EEA. If not, it is not for you.
KRISTIN SKOGEN LUND
Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise
And EEA membership would probably be our least bad option. Woe betide us if we choose worse options.