CEPS warns against marginalisation of Norway

The Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) warns against the marginalisation of Norway in Europe in a new book, “Navigating by the Stars”, released at a conference on EU-Norway relations in Brussels. The book states that Norway’s perception of marginalisation arises from the declining market share of the European Economic Area in the widening EU, alongside with the acceleration of the European integration process.

CEPScalls for a reflection on the place of Norway in the future of Europe, as the country is tightly integrated into the European Economic Area (EEA) yet excluded from the European Convention that is discussing a reform of the EU Treaties. The book states that while “being completely in line with the highest standards of economic and social development, civil society and democracy”, Norway is “a policy-taker, not a policy-maker” in its relation with the EU.

CEPS forecasts that EU-Norway relations may develop in one of the three possible directions:

  • “stop”: stopping the development of EU-Norway relations might be difficult to separate from reversal in practice, since it would mean a backward movement in relation to the general trend in Europe;
  • “reverse”: the reversal scenario could lead to an escalating process of marginalisation to the point of self-isolation;
  • “forward”: Norway is currently moving forward in its relation with the EU, and there are several options to develop this relationship, short of going the whole way to EU membership.

CEPS proposes developing the EEA into a wider Common European Economic Space that would also encompass Russia and other European countries. It warns that there is little scope for renegotiating and upgrading the EEA Treaty because the EU will give first priority to completing the current enlargement process without unnecessary complications.

 

The European Economic Area agreement between Norway and the EU is in force since January 1994. Norway applied for full EU membership in November 1992, and signed the Treaty of Accession in March 1994. The Treaty was rejected by the Norwegian people at the referendum for ratification in November 1994, and Norway remained outside the EU.

 

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