European Free Trade Association: 7th February 2018

Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) (Con)
I congratulate my hon. Friend on his excellent speech. I am sorry that I cannot stay for the full duration of what I anticipate will be an equally excellent debate. Has he explored whether it is possible for any arrangement that we come to with the European Union by way of a free trade agreement to be in effect docked? If we join EFTA, it could be docked in EFTA and therefore the EFTA court could have some role in relation to that agreement, ​which, again, gets away from any of the concerns that many right hon. and hon. Members have about the ECJ.

Stephen Hammond
My right hon. Friend is of course a lawyer and I am not, but I have had conversations with the president of the EFTA court, Mr Baudenbacher, and he would agree that her interpretation is correct and what she describes would be possible. That is only one opinion, but it is that of the president of the EFTA court and therefore it clearly carries some weight and some merit.

The EFTA court has made divergent decisions from the ECJ on numerous occasions. In fact, because the EFTA court deals with cases more quickly, it often hears the novel cases first, and in some cases the ECJ follows the EFTA court. The EFTA court’s rulings are only advisory domestically, so it cannot overrule our sovereign court, the Supreme Court. Again, the point is that we would be heavily involved in influencing.