International Relations

‘This would WEAKEN us’ Norway leader slaps down Soft Brexiteers bid to join trade bloc

NORWAY’S prime minister has hit out at any proposals for the UK joining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) because it could weaken her country’s position in the trade organisation.

Erna Solberg’s concern comes as  Secretary David Davis announced the UK is considering becoming members of EFTA temporarily, in order for Britain to remain in the EU’s common market, the European Economic Area (EEA).Ms Solberg, whose poll results have increased ahead of the Norway election on the September 11, is concerned about what impact the UK joining EFTA would have on smaller countries in the organisation.

Ms Solberg told Norwegian tabloid Verdens Gang: “It would weaken EFTA as an instrument for small countries.

Erna Solberg and David DavisGETTY

Erna Solberg has hit out at proposals for the UK joining EFTA

It would weaken EFTA as an instrument for small countries

Erna Solberg

“The UK is a much larger country that has other interests than the small countries that are already members of EFTA.”Norway is a key player in EFTA, which Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein are also part of.

The UK was was a co-founder of EFTA in 1960 but ceased being a member upon joining the European Economic Community.

She said: “If so, there would be a long transitional period, because it takes a long time to get a final agreement in place with the EU.”

David DavisGETTY

David Davis announced the UK is considering becoming members of EFTA

Ms Solberg also told Reuters it would be challenging and costly for Britain to rejoin the trade bloc, because of some of the obligations ’s Government objects to.She said: “I believe, in consideration to Norwegian agriculture in particular, that we need to be sceptical.

Erna SolbergGETTY

Ms Solberg cast doubt on whether the UK could join EFTA easily

“Their interests are opposite to ours: They are net exporters of agricultural products. We are net importers. It would be difficult to reach an agreement that would benefit both countries.”When asked whether Norway would have the opportunity to block the UK from EFTA she said: “There could be a foreign political situation that would put pressure on us, but it is too early to say.”

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