Britain would bring more influence to EFTA

"When more countries join your club that usually means more influence on the international stage," says Iceland's Foreign Minister Lilja Alfreðsdóttir in an interview with the Norwegian online business newspaper E24 Næringsliv referring to the possibility of Britain rejoining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) after the country has left the European Union.

Britain was a founding member of EFTA back in 1960 but left the club in 1973 to join the EU's predecessor the European Economic Community (EEC). There have been speculations that Britain might want to rejoin EFTA after British voters decided to leave the EU in a referendum in June. EFTA currently has four members; Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. The first three participate in the EU's inner market through their membership of the European Economic Area (EEA). So far the British government has not expressed interest in joining EFTA.

Recently Norway's Europe Minister Elisabeth Aspaker said to the Norwegian media that it might not be a good thing to have a large country such as Britain joining EFTA. That would alter the balance within the organisation, she said, which would not necessarily be in Norway's interests. She stressed that Britain rejoining EFTA would require unanimous support of the current members - including Norway. The comments gained much attention in Britain.

Foreign Minister Alfreðsdóttir says it's too early to exclude the possibility of Britain rejoining EFTA. She also stresses that Iceland, like Norway, is already analyzing how to secure Icelandic trade interests with Britain after the country leaves the EU.




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