A majority of voters would prefer the UK to be a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) as opposed to the EU, according to a new survey published by the Bruges Group.
Of those expressing a preference in the survey, a clear 71% said that Britain would be better off as a member of the trade group EFTA, as opposed to 29% who thought that Britain should remain a member of the EU.
The 71% in favour comprised support across voters intending to vote for all of the major political parties. (Conservative 81%; Labour 54%; Lib Dem 50% UKIP 95% and others 62%) in fact.
EFTA differs from the EU in that it would not have jurisdiction over the UK’s agriculture, fisheries, home affairs or justice policies.
EFTA would also allow the UK to negotiate free trade agreements with countries outside of the EU.
In addition, Britain would become gain a sovereign nation with more power over its domestic affairs.
Robert Oulds, Director of the Bruges Group, said:
“This poll not only adds to the growing body of evidence that a majority of the British people are realising that Britain would be better off out of the European Union but it also shows that there is a viable alternative to EU membership.
“The option of re-joining EFTA and becoming like Norway and Switzerland is very popular with the British public.”
David Nuttall MP, Chair of the Better Off Out All-Party Parliamentary Group, said:
“I think this poll just adds to the growing body of evidence that a majority of the British people are realising that Britain would be better off out of the European Union and instead simply having a free trade relationship with our European neighbours.”
The opinion poll was carried out by Survation on 3rd July 2013, with 1,085 respondents, with a 3% margin of error. The question asked was:
“The European Economic Area (EEA) is the single market that allows for free movement of goods, services, people and capital between all participating European countries.
There are two organisations which allow countries to access this EEA single market - the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The UK could remain a member of the single market if it left the EU and joined the EFTA.
Unlike the EU, the EFTA does not involve itself in countries’ agriculture, fisheries, home affairs or justice policies, and allows countries to negotiate free trade agreements with any outside countries. The UK would have to adopt 60% fewer regulations and pay around £3bn less in budget contributions if it was in the EFTA instead of the EU, but would have less power to influence the rules of the single market.
"With this in mind, which would you prefer the UK to be a member of?"
Of those surveyed, a clear 54.3% said that Britain would be better off as a member of the trade group EFTA, as opposed to 22.2% thought Britain should remain a member of the EU. 23.5% said they were ‘Don’t Knows’.
When the don’t knows are excluded this leaves the figures of 71% and 29%.
For further information about EFTA and the EEA please click on the links below:
The Viable Alternatives to EU Membership
EFTA or the EU?
Membership of EFTA allows the UK also to be a member of the Single Market via the European Economic Area (EEA), allowing for the free movement of: goods, services, people and capital.
EFTA/EEA countries run their own: Agriculture, Fisheries, Home Affairs, Justice, and also get less regulations than EU member states countries, around just 350 a year via the EEA and EFTA as opposed to 1000+ from the EU. Britain would save around £3 billion a year in net payments to Brussels.
EFTA/EEA countries have their own seats on the international organisations that increasingly set regulations so often have more international influence than EU member states who give up their positions to representatives from the European Commission.
EFTA/EEA Countries are also consulted on EU law and have a right to veto rules which damage their interests.
EFTA/EEA countries include: Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. EFTA member Norway has just 3.5% unemployment, average EFTA unemployment is 4%. The UK has 7.5% without a job and in the EU unemployment is approaching 13%. Switzerland is also member of EFTA and has just 2.9% unemployment.
Trade balance/surplus/deficit with EU countries
UK = £40 billion deficit
Norway = surplus
EU = accounts not signed off for 17 years
EFTA = accounts signed off every year