Monday, February 28, 2005

The Negative Side of Non-EU Membership

Jenny Wong's article in the Harvard International Review, "In Name Only: Norway's Ceded Sovereignty", points to the problems encountered by nations who have decided not to join the European Union (EU). The article begins as follows: "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."

The Abstract of the article (subscription required) raises the following point:

"Although Norway has rejected referenda that propose EU entry several times, Norwegians are becoming increasingly aware of the limitations of their influence in European affairs. In 1994, Norway signed the European Economic Agreement with the European Union. This agreement, which gives Norway the ability to freely conduct trade with the European Union, has had the de facto result of forcing Norway to adopt all policies passed by the EU parliament. The result of this, moreover, is that Norway is forced to implement laws that it has no voice in and undermines its very sovereignty as a state."

It is then no wonder that the EU Observer's Lisbeth Kirk reports in Norway hints at EU membership talks after 2007 that "Norway might resume discussions on EU membership after 2007, according to Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik."

Kirk writes further that a new Sentio-Norstat poll published in Norwegian newspapers finds that:

"In February 46.4 percent were in favour of EU membership with 41.6 percent opposed. A further 12.1 percent of voters have not made up their minds.

Norway has twice rejected EU membership in referendums, and as one of the world's leading exporters of oil, Norway has few economic problems, but its major market is Europe, and by not being an EU member, Norway still has to abide by EU dictates in economic areas, without having a thing to say about the content of these laws or regulations. If they want to remain competitive, they have to do what the EU tells them.

This is an important point to be pondered by naysayers in Europe opposing their country's EU membership or rejecting ratification of the EU Constitution. It is also one of major arguments of pro-EU proponents, especially in the UK, who argue that they would rather be a strong leading member of the EU, guiding its policies, rather than finding themselves at the mercy of policies made by others.

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