30th Mar 2017

Norway elections to spark new EU discussion

An election in Norway in two weeks time is likely not only to bring a new prime minister but may also spark a new round of EU discussions in the country.

After rejecting EU membership twice in referendums, the current Norwegian government - made up of pro-and anti-EU parties - agreed to freeze all talk on Norwegian EU membership.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

But prime minister Kjell Magne Bondevik’s liberal-conservative coalition is set to be replaced by the Social Democrats and their leader Jens Stoltenberg in the election on 12 September, according to the latest opinion polls.

A new Social Democrat-lead government is likely to raise the issue again.

No-people to vote yes

The gap between the two political blocs in Norwegian politics is narrow ahead of the elections, but Mr Stoltenberg’s labour party is predicted to get into parliament with 55 MPs to form a new government.

Of these 55 MPs, 14 are critical about EU membership but only four of them have declared openly ahead of the elections that they would vote against fresh application for EU membership, according to Norwegian daily Nationen.

Most EU-critical labour candidates do not want to reveal their position as yet or say they would follow the party line, which will be fixed at a party conference.

In Spring, Mr Stoltenberg made it very clear that all factions have to follow the party line.

"’No-people’ will be bound by our party conference. If the party says yes, all ’no-people’ in the party will vote in favour of seeking EU membership", he said.

Drop in support after constitution rejection

Rich, oil-producing Norway was generally perceived in the EU as an easy and even attractive country to get on board. But the Norwegians themselves were always split on the issue and may turn down membership in a third referendum.

Norway's largest newspaper Verdens Gang recorded a new low in support in May for Norwegian EU membership, when just one third (35.5 percent) of Norwegians said they would like to join the EU, while 44.9 percent said they were opposed to the idea of membership.

The poll was conducted on 31 May - after the French but before the Dutch referendum on the EU constitution - and showed that 24.3 percent had gone from a yes to 'don't know' or 'no' since the previous poll.

Norway voted no to joining the EU in referendums in 1972 and 1994.

Serb minister love-bombs EU

The EU and Serbia have moved a step closer despite regional tensions, with a Serb minister calling the EU "the best place in the world".


'Don't push Turkey away', says writer Elif Shafak

Novelist and essayist Elif Shafak said that isolating Turkey would "play into the hands of populism" and that liberals everywhere should defend their values with "emotional intelligence".

Russia courts Serbia amid EU dispute

Serbian PM Vucic cut short a trip to Brussels, the same day as Russian foreign minister said the EU was pushing Balkan countries to "antagonise" Russia.


'Don't push Turkey away', says writer Elif Shafak

Novelist and essayist Elif Shafak said that isolating Turkey would "play into the hands of populism" and that liberals everywhere should defend their values with "emotional intelligence".

News in Brief

  1. UK publishes 'Great Repeal Bill' plan to replace EU laws
  2. Scots share May's vision for Brexit deal, survey says
  3. Coalition talks leader expects Dutch government by summer
  4. EU commission allows ex-member Hill to join law firm
  5. Reuters: Greece and lenders move closer to deal
  6. Italy: Le Pen win would mean 'permanent political risk'
  7. Danish parliament misinformed on Nord Stream 1
  8. UK delivered its Article 50 letter to the EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  2. The Idealist QuarterlyCan Progressive Stories Survive Our Post-Truth Era? After-Work Discussion on 6 April
  3. ACCAG20 Citizens Want 'Big Picture' Tax Policymaking, According to Global Survey
  4. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  5. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  6. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  7. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  9. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  10. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  11. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Latest News

  1. Hungary attempts to stifle Soros-founded university in Budapest
  2. European right shows divisions on EU values after Brexit
  3. Transparency is key EU tactic in Brexit talks
  4. Russia building 'arc of iron' around Europe
  5. Französische und deutsche Wahlen 'entscheidend' für Putin
  6. EU trying to salvage US deal on data privacy
  7. MEPs draw 'red lines' on Brexit deal
  8. MEPs call for reset in relations with Belarus