Norway–European Union relations

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EU-Norwegian relations
Map indicating locations of European Union and Norway

European Union


Although the Kingdom of Norway is not a member state of the European Union (EU), it is closely associated with the Union through its membership in the European Economic Area (EEA), in the context of being a European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member.


Norway's trade is dominated by the EU, and Norway is the EU's 5th most important import partner. Norway to EU trade amounted to 91.85 € billion in 2008, primarily energy supplies (only 14.1% is manufactured products). The EU's exports to Norway amounted to 43.58 € billion, primarily manufactured products.[1]

European Economic Area[edit]

The EEA agreement grants Norway access to the EU's internal market. From the 23,000 EU laws currently in force,[2] the EEA has incorporated around 5,000 (in force)[3] meaning that Norway is subject to roughly 21% of EU laws. According to Norway's Foreign Affairs (NOU 2012:2 p. 790, 795), from the legislative acts implemented from 1994 to 2010, 70% of EU directives and 17% of EU regulations in force in the EU in 2008 were in force in Norway in 2010.[4] Overall, this means that about 28% of EU legislation in force of these two types in 2008 were in force in Norway in 2010. While the Norwegian parliament has to approve all new legislation which has "significant new obligations", this has been widely supported and usually uncontested; between 1992 and 2011, 92% of EU laws were approved unanimously, and most of the rest by a broad majority.[5]

This arrangement facilitates free movement of goods, capital, services and people between the EU and EFTA members including Norway.[5] Free movement of goods means freedom from customs fees, where however food and beverage is excluded (because those are subsidised by the EU). Free movement of people means freedom of movement for workers between Norway and EU, and that Norway is a part of the Schengen Area.[5]

Norway has been granted participation rights (save voting rights) in several of the Union's programmes, bodies and initiatives.[6] These include security and defence areas like the European Defence Agency, the Nordic Battle Group, Frontex, Europol and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Whether or not the country should apply for full membership has been one of the most dominant and divisive issues in modern Norwegian political debate.[citation needed]

Norway's total financial contribution linked to the EEA agreement consists of contributions related to the participation in these projects, and part made available to development projects for reducing social and economic disparities in the EU (EEA and Norway Grants).[6][7] EEA EFTA states fund their participation in programmes and agencies by an amount corresponding to the relative size of their gross domestic product (GDP) compared to the GDP of the whole EEA. The EEA EFTA participation is hence on an equal footing with EU member states. The total EEA EFTA commitment amounts to 2.4% of the overall EU programme budget. In 2008 Norway’s contribution was €188 million. Throughout the programme period 2007–2013, the Norwegian contribution will increase substantially in parallel with the development of the EU programme budget, from €130 million in 2007 to €290 million in 2013. For the EEA and Norway Grants from 2004 to 2009, Norway provided almost €1.3 billion.[8][9]


See also Norwegian European Communities membership referendum, 1972
See also Norwegian European Union membership referendum, 1994

In 1962, Norway, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland applied for membership in the European Economic Community (EEC). When France rebuffed Britain's application the next year, accession negotiations with Norway and the other countries were also suspended, because of strong economic ties between them. This happened again in 1967.[10]

Norway completed its negotiations for the terms to govern a Norwegian membership in the EEC on 22 January 1972. Following an overwhelming parliamentary majority in favour of joining the EEC in early 1972, the government decided to put the question to a popular referendum, scheduled for September 24 and 25.[11] The result was that 53.5% voted against membership and 46.5% for it.[10] The Norwegian Labour Party government led by Trygve Bratteli resigned over the outcome of the referendum, and a coalition government led by Lars Korvald took over.[12]

Norway entered into a trade agreement with the Community following the outcome of the referendum. That trade agreement remained in force until Norway joined the European Economic Area on 1 January 1994.[13]

On 28 November 1994, yet another referendum was held, narrowing the margin but yielding the same result: 52.2% opposed membership and 47.8% in favour, with a turn-out of 88.6%.[14] There are currently no plans to file another application.

Membership debate[edit]

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

Because these positions to a great extent cut across ideological boundaries, various political parties have dealt with the issue in different ways. The Centre Party has maintained the most principled stand against membership, and though parties such as the Norwegian Conservative Party and the Norwegian Labour Party support membership in their platform, they allow for a minority to oppose it. Most dramatically, the Norwegian Liberal Party split over the issue in 1972 at the famed party conference in Røros and did not reunite until 1989.

The EU membership crosses the traditional left–right axis in Norwegian politics. Since the Labour Party lost its dominance in Norwegian politics, all governments have been a coalition of several political parties. Because the EU membership issue almost certainly would break up any conceivable government coalition (except maybe a rainbow coalition of Labour and the Conservatives), no government has raised the subject and no opposition party has stated any desire to do so either.

Disagreements on this issue have been known to create divisiveness within families and local communities. Although there is a general pattern that urban communities favour membership and rural communities do not, there have been vocal minorities in every area of Norway.

Complicating the matter has been that a great variety of political and emotional factors have been raised in the debate. Radical socialists oppose membership because of an opposition to conservative economic and political forces that concern them within Europe; opponents on the right are concerned about an infringement on Norwegian culture; and others are opposed in principle to compromising Norwegian sovereignty.

Many observers[who?] felt that the Centre Party misread the situation when they interpreted the narrow majority against membership in 1994[15] as an endorsement of the party's general platform. Party politics continue to be confounded by this issue, and most governments tend to avoid it.

Norwegian political parties' positions[edit]

Currently, parties supporting or opposing EU membership are to be found in both right-wing and left-wing coalitions: as a result, most governments contain pro- and anti-EU elements. To avoid a new debate on EU, anti-EU parties usually require "suicide paragraphs" in government-coalition agreements, meaning that if some party in the coalition officially begins a new debate on EU, the government will fall. This has been true for both the previous centre-right Bondevik government and the centre-left Stoltenberg government. The following table shows the different parliamentary parties' stance on EU-membership, sorted by their vote share in the latest parliamentary election (2013):

Party Position Main argument as stated on party websites
Labour Party Yes "Cooperation; influence in EU decisions."[16]
Conservative Party Yes "Peace; stability; solidarity; influence"[17]
Progress Party No [18]
Christian Democratic Party No "EEA is good enough, independence"[19]
Centre Party No "EU does not reduce economic differences,
and does not strengthen democracy"
Liberal Party Yes A stronger integration with the EU will be "good for trade and development". It will lead to more "understanding, tolerance and diversity", as well as to more "peace and democracy". Pledges to respect any referendum result.[21]
Socialist Left Party No "Lack of democracy; too much focus on liberal trade."[22] y
Coastal party No More democracy and more economic independence.[23]
Green Party ? Undecided.[24]

Opinion polling[edit]

On average, Norwegian voters are strongly opposed to Norwegian membership in the European Union. In a December 2015 poll, 18% were for, and 72% were against.

According to a 2010 poll, the majority of the voters of every Norwegian party were against EU membership.[25]

Date Conductor Yes No
2003-09[26] Sentio 37% 38%
2005-06[27] Sentio 36% 51%
2006-05[28] Response 45% 55%
2006-09[28] Response 45% 55%
2006-11[28] Response 41% 59%
2007-04[28] Response 45% 55%
2007-11[28] Response 42% 58%
2008-05[28] Response 40% 60%
2008-12[29] Sentio 37.5% 50.7%
2009-01[29] Sentio 32.5% 52.8%
2009-02[30] Sentio 35.1% 54.7%
2009-03[31] Sentio 33% 54.9%
2009-04[32] Sentio 34.9% 53.3%
2009-05[33] Response 42% 58%
2009-05[34] Norstat 38.6% 49%
2009-06[34] Norstat 40.6% 50.3%
2009-09[35] Sentio 35% 52.2%
2009-10[36] Sentio 41.4% 45.6%
2009-11[37] Sentio 42% 58%
2010-02[38] Sentio 33% 53.4%
2010-04[39] Sentio 36.3% 50.1%
2010-05[40] Norstat 32.3% 55%
2010-05[41] Sentio 30.3% 56.9%
2010-05[42] Response 26% 62%
2010-07[43] Sentio 25.3% 66.1%
2010-07[44] Norstat 25% 66%
2010-08[45] Sentio 26% 62%
2010-09[46] Sentio 24.9% 64.9%
2011-01[47] Sentio 22.5% 65.9%
2011-05[48] Response 29% 71%
2011-07[49] Sentio 17.1% 73.4%
2011-07[49] Sentio 20.1% 68.8%
2011-10[50] Sentio 18.6% 70.8%
2011-10[51] Synovate 12% 72%
2012-07[52] Sentio 17.2% 74.8%
2013-01[53] Sentio 18.7% 70.8%
2014-08[54] Sentio 17.8% 70.5%
2015-12[55] Sentio 18.1% 72.0%
2016-06[56] Sentio 19.6% 70.9%
2016-08[57] Ipsos MMI 16% 66%

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Norway - Trade - European Commission". Retrieved 2016-06-03. 
  2. ^ "Directory of European Union legislation - EUR-Lex". 2016-05-19. Retrieved 2016-06-03. 
  3. ^ "EEA-Lex | European Free Trade Association". Retrieved 2016-06-03. 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ a b c Lang, Arabella (14 January 2013). "Norway's relationship with the EU". House Of Commons Library. Retrieved 14 May 2016. 
  6. ^ a b "Vårt skjulte EU-medlemskap" (in Norwegian). Moss-avis. Retrieved 2007-11-19. 
  7. ^ "10 Basic facts about the European Economic Area". The Norwegian Mission to the EU. Retrieved 2009-10-27. 
  8. ^ "EEA EFTA Financial Contributions". EFTA Secretariat. Retrieved 2008-02-06. 
  9. ^ "Norway and the EU" (PDF). Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. February 2009. Retrieved 2008-02-06. 
  10. ^ a b "Norway and the EU - A Historical Overview". Norway mission to the EU. Retrieved 2016-02-29. 
  11. ^ "Description de "The referendum in Norway (25 September 1972)" - on". Oslo: Statistisk Sentralbyrå. 1972. Retrieved 2013-05-04. 
  12. ^ Miles, Lee. The European Union and the Nordic Countries.1996. Routledge, p. 133.
  13. ^ "EAA Agreement". EFTA. EFTA. 
  14. ^ "1994: Norway votes 'no' to Europe". BBC. 1994-11-28. Retrieved 2009-01-22. 
  15. ^ "NSD". NSK Centre for Forskingsdata (in Norwegian). 
  16. ^ "Arbeiderpartiet - Websikon: Politikken vår fra A til Å". Retrieved 2016-06-03. 
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved August 31, 2007. 
  18. ^ "Frp sier nei til EU for første gang". Verdens Gang (in Norwegian). NTB. 4 September 2016. 
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 3, 2007. Retrieved August 14, 2006. 
  20. ^ "Siden finnes ikke". Retrieved 2016-06-03. 
  21. ^ Venstres Hovedorganisasjon (2014-06-23). "Europapolitikk - Venstre". Retrieved 2016-06-03. 
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved August 14, 2006. 
  23. ^ Kystpartiet. "Hva mener kystpartiet om Norges forhold til EU og EØS-saker? | ABC Nyheter". kystpartiet. Retrieved June 2003.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  24. ^ Thomas Vermes. "Hva mener Rødt og Miljøpartiet De grønne om Norges forhold til EU og EØS-saker? | ABC Nyheter". Retrieved 2016-06-03. 
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  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 7, 2009. Retrieved February 13, 2009. 
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  30. ^ [2][dead link]
  31. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 24, 2011. Retrieved February 13, 2009. 
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  33. ^ "Flere sier ja til EU - Makro og politikk - E24". 2009-05-19. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  34. ^ a b "Tekstarkiv". Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  35. ^ "Nei, nei, nei til EU - Makro og politikk - E24". 2007-09-24. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  36. ^ "Nesten jevnt løp mellom ja og nei til EU - nyheter". 2009-10-19. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  37. ^ "Fortsatt klart nei-flertall - nyheter". 2009-11-15. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  38. ^ Anders Schiøtz (2010-02-22). "Full kollaps for ja-sida". Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  39. ^ "Framgang for EU-tilhengerne - nyheter". Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  40. ^ "Flere nordmenn sier nei til EU - EU - VG". 2010-05-11. Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  41. ^ "Historisk EU-motstand" (in Norwegian Bokmål). 2010-05-15. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  42. ^ "EU-motstanden øker og øker". 2010-05-18. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  43. ^ "Overveldende EU-nei". 2010-07-19. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  44. ^ "Nå er også Høyre-velgerne mot EU". 2010-07-26. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  45. ^ Filip Roshauwredaks (2010-08-15). "Mer enn 60 prosent sier nei for tredje måned på rad". Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  46. ^ "65 prosent vil ikke ha Norge inn i EU". 2010-09-13. Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  47. ^ "Ny bunnmåling for EU-tilhengerne - Aftenposten". 2011-10-12. Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  48. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 19, 2011. Retrieved May 18, 2011. 
  49. ^ a b "Nationen – Sju av ti er mot EU". Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  50. ^ "Sjokkmåling for eu-tilhengerne". 2011-10-24. Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  51. ^ "Dette er en monstermåling". Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  52. ^ "Høyrevelgerne deler ikke partiets syn på EU - Aftenposten". 2012-07-21. Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  53. ^ "Sju av ti er imot norsk EU-medlemskap - nyheter". Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  54. ^ "Massiv norsk EU-motstand - nyheter". Retrieved 2014-08-31. 
  55. ^ "Massiv norsk EU-motstand - nyheter". Retrieved 2016-05-26. 
  56. ^ Frida Holsten Gullestad. "Norges nei står sterkt". Retrieved 2016-06-20. 
  57. ^ Tore Bergsaker. "Brexit rokker ikke norsk EU-motstand". Dagbladet. Retrieved 2016-08-27. 

External links[edit]

Norwegian government[edit]

NGOs related to the question of membership[edit]