However, despite that Persson has been corrected many times over the issue that Norway does have a say -indeed more than the UK - over EU Single Market rules, Persson persists in the Daily Telegraph with his inaccuracies. With this in mind I complained to the Press Complaints Commission. Obviously I'm under no illusions that little will change but a marker has to be put down. I reproduce my complaint below in full:
I’m writing to you wishing to draw your attention to an article on the Daily Telegraph website by Mats Persson Director of the think tank Open Europe. He writes about the important issue of the UK’s membership of the European Union - more specifically in this case the possible method of leaving. The website URL in question is below:
My reason for contacting the Press Complaints Commission is that I have deep concerns that much of the article is incorrect and factually wrong. In particular I wish to highlight this paragraph regarding the debate about the UK’s role in the EU:
"If only it was that simple. There’s no good off-the-peg model that the UK can simply adopt should it leave the EU. The Norwegian (“regulation without representation)…"Persson's dismissal of the Norway option (“regulation without representation”) has been repeated before despite being corrected personally to Persson himself and in the comments (url below)
Mats Persson's argument relies heavily on the false doctrine that Norway has "no influence" in making EU law. However this is simply factually untrue, Norway has more influence than the UK regarding Single Market rules as illustrated below:
A) Many of Single Market laws are made at an international level for example the WTO – Norway gets to represent itself while the UK has only 8% influence with the EU which represents us on our behalf.
B) Norway is also on over 200 EEA (Single Market) committees which influence EU law from the outset –Anne Tvinnereim, former State Secretary for the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development in Norway for example said this: “we do get to influence the position".
C) Norway can then contest that laws don’t apply to their EEA agreement – currently they have over 1,200 in dispute.
D) Ultimately Norway can veto any EU legislation, as they did with the 3rd EU Postal Directive while the UK had no choice but to implement it by the 2011 Postal Services Act.
Another inaccurate assertion by Mats Persson in the same article is:
“Under Article 50 [of the Lisbon Treaty] and in continuity deals, France, the European Parliament and others could consistently block market access for the UK’s exporters of IT, insurance, banking and other services."The Lisbon Treaty and Article 50 is covered by international law, notably by Article 54 of the Vienna Convention on the Law on Treaties, for the EU – an international organisation - to block market access would be in fundamental breach of international law. The EU would be obliged to adhere by its international Treaty agreements.
The UK’s membership of the EU is clearly a very important topic of debate and regardless of various views of our membership rigorous but accurate debate in our media is essential. The Press Complaints Commission confirms on its website it considers that accuracy of the press is of upmost importance:
1 AccuracyThe issue of the UK’s membership of the EU has clearly taken a more prominent role in UK politics, signified by David Cameron’s promise of a referendum in 2017 (if he were to win the 2015 election) and the current debates between Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg. Thus it’s imperative that the public are accurately informed. In this spirit we note the Press Complaint Commission’s conclusion with an untrue story about EU rules on eggs in 2010:
i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.
ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and - where appropriate - an apology published. In cases involving the Commission, prominence should be agreed with the PCC in advance.
iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
iv) A publication must report fairly and accurately the outcome of an action for defamation to which it has been a party, unless an agreed settlement states otherwise, or an agreed statement is published.
With this in mind I wish to formally complain that Mats Persson’s article breaches the code of conduct of accuracy – it is misleading and is an attempt to severely distract readers of a very popular newspaper from forming a proper and considered opinion.