That the BBC is bias when it comes to all matters EU won't come as a surprise to most. And so it proves again with the film above by Matthew Price, the BBC's "Europe" correspondent as spotted by Richard North.
Posing the question: "Would Norway's special EU arrangement work for Britain?", Price wastes no time in effectively dismissing the idea in terms which would greatly please pro-EU Cameron himself, including the old canard that Norway has "no say". Price's exact words are (1 min in) - and it's worth bearing these words in mind:
Norway has to obey the trading rules of the European Union,. And yet, unlike the 28 member countries that make up the EU, it has no say in what those rules actually are. They are, literally, imposed by Brussels".This assertion is, as readers of this blog will be aware, entirely false. Richard ponders whether the BBC feels it necessary to lie so freely is not just because of inherent bias but also in part because of ignorance. Well there's only one way to find out, ask the man himself...which I duly did last night via twitter.
My first tweet began:
Price's subsequent reply was interesting:
Straight away he admits Norway can "lobby to affect EC proposals". Now, that's somewhat different to his assertion that it has "no say". By using the term lobbying Price is clearly referring to the fact Norway, and other EEA states, sit on EEA committees and help formulate Single Market rules from the outset.
The term "lobbying" is downplaying the EEA member's role in this by some distance, yet even that term alone is still an admission that his report is wrong. Thus this is a Norwegian position that he is clearly aware of but chose not to mention in his report. Price justifies the omission instead with the argument that Norway complains of a "democratic deficit". This implies that being members of the EU somehow would solve that deficit, an implication which is ludicrous - even the EU itself acknowledges the "democratic deficit" problem for EU members.
I next put to him that Norway has a veto, again I receive another very 'interesting' response:
Norway has used its veto when it came to the 3rd Postal Directive - a Directive the UK had no option but to implement via the 2011 Postal Services Act. The EEA agreement did not unravel. In addition Norway has threatened to use it on other occasions, a threat that enhances its negotiating position when sitting on EEA committees. Again somewhat different to the argument of "no say".
I then put to Price the issue of Norway having a greater say on the WTO than the UK which is represented by an EU "common position":
here. We also have an admission that Norway does indeed have a say on the international stage - it has "pushed back" GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms). And indeed they have (my emphasis):
Despite the close relationship between Norway and the EU through the EEA Agreement, which inter alia means that Norway is part of the internal market for trade in goods, Norwegian authorities have so far pursued a policy on marketing of GMOs that differs significantly from that of the EU. Given the fact that Norway is depending on the political will of the EU in order to continue its cooperation with the EU through the EEA Agreement, which gives Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein a unique possibility to participate in political processes within the EU, it is remarkable that Norway has been willing to deviate from the policy of the EU on such a politically important issue as the marketing of GMOs. This indicates the extent to which Norwegian politicians have considered GMOs to be a major political issue.So at the end of a relatively short twitter exchange, Matthew Price has admitted that Norway has a veto, helps formulate EU laws from the outset and has a say on international laws which could be contrary to the EU's position. This in stark contrast to what he says in the report above:
...[Norway] has no say in what those rules actually are. They are, literally, imposed by Brussels".It should be remembered at this point that I'm querying the sentiments of a supposedly "impartial" BBC reporter, yet if I didn't know better I would think I was arguing with pro-EU Cameron. The responses I encountered are exactly what I would expect - and have received - from those who support EU membership and disagree with the Norway model - the same model which is a convenient antidote to the economic 'hang onto nurse' arguments.
Bias laid bare...a complaint is on its way.