Redrawing Lines of Control: The
Norwegian Welfare State Dilemma1
The year 1995 witnessed two events that made immigration control a frontpage issue in the Norwegian media. Firstly, the European Schengen Accord disturbed the consolidated non-EU-membership of Norway due to the entry of Sweden and Finland into the Union, and the consequent quandary of the Nordic Passport Union. Secondly, the local elections in September were made into an opinion poll on immigration, dominated by the rightist liberal (and anti-immigration) Progress Party (FrP).
The intergovernmental Schengen Agreement, with its concern with border control and asylum policy, exposed the Norwegian public to the complexities of the immigration issue within the European Union. This was ironic as immigration was hardly an issue at all during the extended campaign over the EU membership question the year before. Nevertheless, by voting down EU membership, Norway retained (at least formally) the ability to define the country's immigration policy independent of the EU system in the years to come. By opening up for a Schengen association, a more developed (in terms of harmonization) immigration/border control policy might be introduced through the back door. The organization ‘No to EU’ consequently remobilized.
The Schengen issue was put on the agenda in Norway basically because it affects the Nordic Passport Union, which since 1959 has implied free movement between the Nordic countries and equal treatment of labour, among other arrangements. With Sweden and Finland entering the European Union, the long internal Nordic border between Sweden and Norway became an external EU border – with all the security issues involved. In Norway the Nordic issue is of high symbolic significance. Most Norwegians would strongly disapprove of having to carry a passport when travelling internally in the Nordic area. Besides, many of the no-____________________