Facing the EU stagnation, the raising of EFTA?

The European Union is engaged in a stalled negotiation with the United Kingdom and the dificultéis that arise in this process invite the UK to work on its integration into the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

At the same time, in Catalonia the chance of an unilateral independence declaration gains strength and, although the Treaty on European Union (TEU) does not provide for an express regulation regarding a secession inside the EU, where such separating territory is not interested in abandoning the EU (ie to invoke artivle 50 TEU), the interpretation in favour of the maintenance has been set aside.

As Catalonia needs to facilitate international trade, there are three basic alternatives: (i) a trade agreement with the EU, (ii) a trade agreement with a third State with a free trade agreement with the EU, or (iii) accede to free trade through an international treaty, such as EFTA. EFTA would allow a way for territories such as the UK and Catalonia to trade with the EU. Moreover, EFTA has also free trade agreements with other countries, thus its scope its not limited to EU and EFTA members.

The current member states in EFTA are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, although there are other states that have been included before, such as UK before entering the EU.

It appears an agreement between the UK and EFTA has not been concluded so far because Brexit supporters voted to exit the single market and Schengen area. Thus, this should be understood as a fraud regarding the decision resulting form the Brexit referendum. Another problem with the UK in case it enters EFTA, is that the population of EFTA would increase from its current 14 million to 80 million. Therefore, EU may claim for a price increase to EFTA as consideration for the single market.

By contrast, with Catalonia EFTA would increase its population only 7.5 million, reaching a total population of 21.5 million, and Catalan population desires to keep the single market.