In the nearest future you are going to visit the Northern Future Forum in Iceland. What are your indentions in connection with this meeting?
- I will use a visit to the Northern Future Forum in Iceland to dismiss claims by the Leave group that Britain could enjoy a special relationship with the EU on the lines of the accord negotiated by Norway.
The Leave campaign has also sought to downplay the risks of a British exit by following the example of Norway, which has access to the EU’s single market as a member of the European Economic Area. But Norway pays hefty fees, and has no say over the rules of the single market. The group also cites the example of Switzerland, which negotiates access to the single market.
During my visit to Reykjavik, I am going to repeat the criticism of the so-called Norway option. I admire those countries and they are friends of ours – but they are very different from us. Norway sits on the biggest energy reserves in Europe, and has a sovereign wealth fund of over ˆ500bn. And while Norway is part of the single market – and pays for the principle – it has no say at all in setting its rules: it just has to implement its directives. The Swiss have to negotiate access to the single market sector by sector. Accepting EU rules – over which they have no say – or else not getting full access to the single market, including in key sectors like financial services.
I also plan remarks to show I am preparing to up the tempo after the Polish elections which saw victory for the highly conservative Law and Justice party. Iceland is not a member of the EU, but I am going to use the forum to lobby the Baltic states and Scandinavian members of the EU.
- Several months ago you visited a Lebanese refugee camp. How do you evaluate the role of Britain in that situation?
- Around 3% of the 11 million Syrians forced from their homes have sought asylum in Europe. Without British aid, hundreds of thousands more could be risking their lives seeking to get to Europe. So these funds are part of our comprehensive approach to tackle migration from the region. Our goal remains to support the development of a secure, stable and peaceful Syria. Without our investment in international development the numbers of people seeking to embark on a perilous journey to Europe would be far greater. We are going to introduce a special law which would protect the rights of refugees. We are not going to seal our boarders. On the contrary, we will launch a new round of talks concerning this issue.
- Was it yours decision to arrive there and speak to those people?
- Yes. I wanted to come here to see for myself and to hear for myself stories of refugees and what they need. Britain is already the second largest donor to refugee camps …and is really helping in a way that many other countries aren’t, with serious amounts of money. We will go on doing that including increasing the amount of money we are giving to educate Syrian children here in Lebanon and elsewhere. I think that’s absolutely vital. I also want to discourage refugees from travelling to Europe. I personally will provide more generous help for the camps in the region.
Date: 2015-12-17; view: 515