Reluctant Europeans: Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland in the Process of Integration

Reluctant Europeans: Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland in the Process of Integration

Reluctant Europeans: Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland in the Process of Integration

Reluctant Europeans: Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland in the Process of Integration

Synopsis

Analysing some 30 policy decisions across three countries and five decades, Sieglinde Gstohl considers why some countries continue to be 'reluctant Europeans' and offers insights into the problems associated with integration in an enlarging EU.

Excerpt

Il est difficile de tomber amoureux d'un marché commun.

—Jacques Delors

Today, Sweden looks back on a few years of membership in the European Union (EU), Norway is part of the European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland has stayed out of both but concluded bilateral sectoral agreements with the Union. All three countries were founding members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which was intended as an alternative to the European Communities (EC: the European Community, the European Coal and Steel Community, and the European Atomic Energy Community) and as a bridge-building device between the two trading groups. Even though the EFTA countries easily fulfilled the accession criteria, they were either latecomers or still have not joined the EU.

In this book, I attempt to explain why small, rich, and open economies such as Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland, whose major trading partner has traditionally been the European Community, have been so reluctant toward supranational integration. In search of an answer to this puzzle, I trace the trajectory of their integration policies across five decades. An explanation is offered by combining an analysis of economic interests in market integration with ideational interests in protecting national identity. The approach thus lies at an intersection that currently engages the discipline of international relations, and it shifts the focus of European studies from integration theory to integration policy theory.

The inspiration to write the book stems from my involvement in the negotiations on the creation of a European Economic Area in the early 1990s, a project that finally accomplished what the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC) negotiations on a wider European free trade area failed to do in the late 1950s. Yet, when the EEA entered into force, most EFTA states had already applied for EU member-

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