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Norway’s relationship with the EU

Published Monday, January 14, 2013

Norway is not part of the EU, and although it has adopted large amounts of EU legislation, it has little influence.

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Norway is, in the words of a recent report, both outside and inside the EU. Through a series of agreements, the most important of which is the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement, it is part of a free trade area with the EU, shares equal access to the EU internal market, and allows free movement with all 30 EEA states. It is part of the Schengen border-free area and related immigration and police cooperation. It collaborates with the EU over defence and security policy, fisheries and agriculture, and participates in dozens of EU agencies and programmes. As a result Norway has adopted three quarters of the EU’s rules and legislation.

But Norway has little say in any of this. Although it can attend and talk at various meetings, it does not generally have the right to make or amend proposals which affect it, or to vote on them. This democratic deficit is seen as the biggest problem with Norway’s position.

A recent official report and white paper on Norway’s relations with the EU argue that despite some problems, the current arrangements work well in practice, and are largely supported or accepted by the main political parties. Although Norway is putting more emphasis on trying to influence EU policy at its early stages, no major change of direction is likely.

Commons Briefing papers SN06522

Author: Arabella Lang

Topics: EU enlargement, EU external relations, EU law and treaties, Europe, Western Europe

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