26th Jan 2020

Norway frustrated over relationship with EU

Non-EU member Norway is growing increasingly frustrated over its lack of influence over Brussels' decision making process, an internal document shows.

Oslo's interests are getting harder to defend, as the EU is expanding its competences beyond what the initial terms of the agreement regulating Norway's participation to the bloc's internal market covered, an internal note of the Norwegian ambassador in Brussels, obtained by Aftenposten, says.

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  • Oslo wants to have more say in EU decisions (Photo: Wikipedia)

Norwegians rejected EU membership twice – in a first referendum held in 1972 and another one in 1994. Oslo joined the EU internal market and automatically adopts all legislation relating to it. It has a veto right over some areas, which it has never used.

Norwegian ambassador Oda Helen Sletnes, who wrote the report complains that her country cannot keep up with the EU's fast and continuous transformation.

In July, negotiations between Norway and the European Commission on the renewal of a funding scheme for the bloc's new member states worth over €1 billion failed to be concluded. The EU executive had hoped for a substantial top-up, while Oslo was looking at better conditions for its fisheries exports on the EU market – another file being negotiated with the commission.

A spokeswoman for the permanent representation of Norway in Brussels declined to comment directly on the document published by the Norwegian newspaper. She referred to the statements made by foreign minister Jonas Gahr Store in reaction to the article, who said it was a "challenge for Norway to relate to a EU that has grown both in size and in depth."

The so-called European Economic Area agreement (EEA) signed in 1994 between the EU and Norway was "static", he said, while the EU institutions were in "continuous development."

"Norway has nevertheless shown good capabilities in meeting these challenges," the minister added.

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