As the Government seeks to establish a bold, new trading relationship with Europe, backbench MPs secured a debate on the potential of re-joining the European Free Trade Area (EFTA).
In a free trade area there are no tariffs, taxes or quotas on goods and/or services from one country entering another. In the 1960s, the UK was a founding member of the EFTA prior to joining the Customs Union and EU Single Market.
Speaking in the debate, Meriden MP Dame Caroline Spelman said:
“A European Free Trade Area (EFTA) would solve a lot of problems as it does not require the pooling of sovereignty which is so contentious in our EU membership. EFTA would allow access for trade and afford more flexibility than the EU by excluding agriculture and fisheries so that ill-fitting policies like the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) do not have to be adhered to. We would not be bound by the European Court of Justice or the principle of free movement, thereby removing the more contentious aspects of EU membership. We could re-join EFTA by next April giving security and confidence to businesses and providing safer transition to the post-Brexit world.”