BBC business correspondent, Jonty Bloom, has been to Norway
so to tell us all how the relationship between Norway and the EU works.
Precisely why he needed to go to Norway beats the hell out of us since
he could just as easily have used Google and read the EEA Agreement.
Bloom has it that "as Norway is not a member of the EU, it has no say over these or
any other EU rules. It can lobby against them, but it does not sit
round the table when they are proposed, discussed, amended, debated, or
voted into law. It most certainly does not have a veto over any legislation and yet the consequences can be huge."
Had he read the agreement he would have discovered that:
According to the principle of
unanimity applied in the EEA Joint Committee, all the EFTA states
must agree in order for new EU legislation to be integrated into
the EEA Agreement and for it to apply to cooperation between the
EFTA states and the EU. If one EFTA state opposes integration, this
also affects the other EFTA states in that the rules will not apply
to them either, neither in the individual states nor between the
EFTA states themselves nor in their relations with the EU. This
possibility that each EFTA state has to object to new rules that
lie within the scope of the EEA Agreement becoming applicable to
the EFTA pillar is often referred to as these parties’ right of
So far, this right has not been
exercised. This is partly because when EU legislation is to be
integrated into the EEA Agreement it is submitted to the EEA Joint
Committee at the final stage of an extensive process of information
and consultation between the contracting parties. The purpose of
this process is to ensure that agreement is reached on such
decisions. During the negotiations on the EEA Agreement,
compromises were found if a state had constitutional objections to
the content or could invoke fundamental national interests. Even
though constitutional problems are unlikely to arise in the
day-to-day EEA work, the will to reach necessary compromises must
still be regarded as a basic condition for cooperation.
The source for this comes in at the very top of the Google search results when you type "efta veto". What
this tells us is that there is no editorial procedure at the BBC that
stands in the way of such profoundly erroneous claims. It also tells us
that Bloom does not in any way fact check his own work.
But we note that
Bloom says Norway "most certainly does not have a veto" as though to
impress his certitude upon us. You could only really conclude that this
is a deliberate lie.
The claim is made in
reference to a particular passage in which Bloom writes "OSO Hotwater is
a maker of central heating boilers just outside Oslo,
and a few years ago it woke up to a nightmare. Overnight it discovered
that the EU was introducing new environmental and energy efficiency
standards that favoured gas powered boilers over electric ones. As
OSO's boss Sigurd Braathen told me he did the calculations and realised
that half of Oso's products would soon be useless: unsaleable."
This is quite remarkable on several counts. The energy efficiency standards are those embodied in EU law.
In this, there is a global hierarchy. If there is a global standard,
then trading blocs and WTO members MUST adopt it. They can embellish it
locally, but not in such a way as to create a trade barrier. For
international trade purposes, the international standard takes
precedence over the local standard, and as long as the exporter complies
with the international standard, the importer nation (or bloc) can't
refuse it. If OSO produced to the global standard there wouldn't be a problem.
We can let Bloom off the hook for not
knowing that much. After all, he is just an idle BBC hack. But supposing his scenario were absolutely true we would have very little sympathy.
Bloom retails that OSO Hotwater discovered "overnight" that the law was
changing. We would ask whose fault that is? Nothing in the EU
legislative process happens overnight - and the one good thing we can
say about the EU is that it is fairly transparent in publishing its
The standards bodies are not EU institutions and all participating states are consulted through their own standards agencies,
in which consumer groups, manufacturers and trade guilds are
involved in the process. This at the very beginning of the process
before it goes anywhere near the EU parliament for discussion - and incidentally, the best way of influencing the substance of regulations.
such is only discovered "overnight" then we would note that OSO Hotwater
is not paying proper attention to the industry and should perhaps take
industry journals more seriously instead of moaning to BBC hacks who are
only going to invent stories anyway.
This is actually the second time
this month that a BBC hack has been on an expenses paid jolly to tell
fibs about the EU. We cannot now dismiss this as the
casual journalistic incompetence we normally see from them. The BBC is clearly agenda driven. Something about the Norway Option has them hot and bothered. It should.
UPDATE: Digging a little deeper, we discover Bloom is an even bigger liar than we thought. EUreferendum.com explains.