Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that the Scottish Government is considering a Norway-style model for keeping Scotland in the European Union (EU) single market.

Scotland's First Minister told MSPs that the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and European Economic Area (EEA) models were being looked at as part of efforts to protect Scotland's place in Europe post-Brexit.

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It follows media reports Scotland could attempt to become a member of the EEA when the UK leaves the EU.

The Scottish Government has said it will soon publish proposals aimed at keeping Scotland in the single market even if the rest of the UK leaves.

Addressing a meeting of the Scottish Parliament's conveners' group, Ms Sturgeon said: "I've been very clear that the priority we've been working around just now is to look at how we maintain and protect our place in the single market, and by that I mean membership of the single market, not some vague access to the single market that other parties might talk about but there are different ways that that can perhaps be achieved.

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"I've set out very clearly I want the UK as a whole to stay in the single market and so to the extent that we can wield any influence UK-wide we will try to help steer the UK Government away from a hard Brexit towards staying in the single market, and in that respect of course the outcome of the Supreme Court Article 50 case will have relevance because it will influence the extent to which the House of Commons is going to be able to influence this before the triggering of Article 50.

"But if the UK is intent on a hard Brexit and coming out of the single market, I want to look at how we could, and I'm not for a minute saying there wouldn't be challenges associated with this, but whether we could find a way of protecting Scotland's place in the single market, and of course models like EFTA, Norway is in EFTA, EFTA countries apart from Switzerland are also in the single market through the European Economic Area.

"So, of course, these are models that we're looking at and we will, as I've said previously, publish some proposals and an option, or perhaps different options, about how this could be achieved hopefully before the end of the year."

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The EEA includes the existing EU states in addition to EFTA members Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Membership offers access to the single market but members must make a financial contribution and adopt most EU legislation as well as the free movement of people.

Ms Sturgeon expressed her frustration over the Brexit negotiations and called for more openness and transparency from the UK Government.

She said: "I look at the various different things the UK Government ministers are doing around Brexit just now and I'm not that sure that any of it adds up to any kind of coherent plan for what it is that they're trying to achieve and that concerns me deeply.

"We are trying to influence a bit of a vacuum at the moment and it's extremely frustrating."

Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said: "The plan for a separate Norway-style deal is a complete non-starter.

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"On Tuesday, Keith Brown appeared to accept this was the case, but now the First Minister says it's back on the table.

"Academics have warned again that this proposal would be the worst of all worlds, trapping Scotland in an EU-wide pact over which we would have no influence, and cutting us off from our biggest and nearest market in the rest of the UK.

"It is time the First Minister got real. The best way forward for Scotland is to take part in UK-wide negotiations."