Norwegians say no to EU membership ahead of general election


Less than 20% of Norwegian voters want their country to join the European Union, according to a poll published ahead of a general election to be held on 9 September.

Seven out of 10 voters say no to Norway's EU membership, while only 19% think the country should join the union, according to the poll.

The no-voters are found in all parts of the country, among all age groups and educational levels, according to Norwegian media.

Høyre, a conservative party and the country's largest opposition group, says EU membership will not come on the agenda should it accede to power following the election.

According to the latest polls, the party's leader, Erna Solberg, is set to win the election comfortably and could thus become the second female prime minister in Norwegian history after Gro Harlem Brundtland, who took power in 1981, 1986-89 and 1990-96.

"EU membership will not be an important topic in the next term," said Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, Høyre parliamentary representative, according to Klassekampen newspaper.

Høyre voters are the most EU positive in the Norwegian public. While 60% are against EU membership, one third believes the Scandinavian country should join.

Among the Norwegian right-wing parties, the Christian People's Party is the only one which is completely against joining the EU. The Liberals and the Progressive Party do not have an EU policy, but the Høyre politicians wish to send an EU membership application.

"It's no news that a majority of Høyre voters are against EU membership. It has been like this for years. But Høyre's views are decided during the party congress, and there we still have a Norwegian pro-EU membership majority," Isaksen stated.

Norway has had two European referenda in the past. In 1972, a majority of 53.5% said no to joining the then European Economic Community and in 1994, 52.2% of the voters rejected EU membership.

Norway and Iceland are the only Nordic countries outside the EU. Last week Iceland walked out on EU membership talks.

While Sweden and Denmark are EU members, Finland is the only Nordic country which is both a member of the EU and the euro currency.

Norway voted against EU membership in a 1994 referendum and subsequently joined the European Economic Area (EEA), along with Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Trade from Norway to the EU amounted to €91.85 billion in 2008, and is primarily made up of energy supplies (only 14.1% is manufactured products). The EU's exports to Norway amounted to €43.58 billion, primarily manufactured products.

Norway's trade is dominated by the EU while Norway is the EU's fourth biggest import partner.

  • 9 Sept: General elections in Norway

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