In Name Only: Norway's Ceded Sovereignty

Article excerpt

With the admission of ten additional countries to the European Union in May 2004, the consequences of being a non-member European state are growing. Though Norway has rejected referendums that propose EU entry several times, Norwegians are becoming increasingly aware of the limitations of their influence in European affairs. Their government has a very small voice in constructing EU policies that ultimately matter greatly to Norway.

In fact, Norway follows most EU policies, but through external and convoluted mechanisms. With growing integration of the European Union, Norway's undesirable position of following one step behind has become painfully obvious. Ultimately, Norway must join the European Union to obtain a stronger voice in formulating the decisions that affect the nation.

Norway has long considered the question of becoming a member of the European Union; voters rejected membership in separate referendums in 1972 and 1994, despite strong government support for membership. After the defeat of the most recent referendum, the government announced that it would not have another initiative for ten years. The question is now on the table once more.

Norway has become more closely oriented toward the European Union over the past years, even participating in certain EU initiatives, such as the EU mission to Bosnia. Its formal alliance with the European Union comes from the European Economic Agreement (EEA) instituted in 1994. Through the channel of EEA debates, Norway informally implements EU policy. One of Norway's top priorities between 2002 and 2004 was to enlarge EEA-EU relations, culminating in the EEA Enlargement Agreement that took effect on May 1, 2004, and promised a new role for Norway in the European internal market. Through this relationship, Norway now participates in EU programs in the fields of education, environment, and research; it is as involved in European policy as a non-EU country can be. However, many question the sustainability of the EEA in the face of growing pressure to join the European Union.

Internationally, it continues to try to build a place for itself among major superpowers. It has mediated between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, as well as between the Sri Lankan government and its Tamil separatists. On October 15, 2004, Norway pledged to donate 10 million NOK (approximately US$1. …