I found the little story by Richard Corbett – who apparently is a Member of the European Parliament interesting, as he tries to use Norway as a example of why UK should stay in EU.
As I am Norwegian, and as Norway now have had 2 referendums resulting in Norway staying out of EU this needs some corrections IMHO.
On his blog he writes :
Under its agreement with the EU, Norway, for example, has access to the internal market and most of the economic integration programmes. On a superficial level, this might to some to be an attractive prospect. But, as part of the terms of their agreement, each year, Norway transposes 400 EU internal market regulations into their national law, but have no say in shaping them. They have no Commissioners, no ministers in the Council to represent their national interests, no MEPs, no seat on the European Council and no civil servants in the EU institutions. They also have to make a hefty contribution to the EU budget, and receive no EU spending at all. Perhaps this is why Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has publicly stated that he would like his country to become a member of the EU.
[From Blog – Richard Corbett MEP: Better off out brigade are only lying to themselves]
Let me comment his statements one by one :
“but have no say in shaping them” – this is not quite strictly true, as Norway have access, and can take part in, any of the discussions, we just do not have any vote in them. But look at reality, Norway have 4.5 million inhabitants, so a proportional vote in Europe (as the other smaller countries already have found out) would not be given much weight….btw. in 2004 the number of such regulations were 181.
“They also have to make a hefty contribution to the EU budget, and receive no EU spending at all” – actually the “hefty contribution” is approx. 200 mill Euros per year, extremely cheap for one of the wealthiest countries in the world and not what I would call hefty. Btw. Norway contributes approx. 97% of the total contributed by the EEU countries, so the other countries contribute only around 5 mill Euros per year…is this what you call hefty?
“Perhaps this is why Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has publicly stated that he would like his country to become a member of the EU” – look at the first part, we have had 2 referendums, so very little chance of this happening. The statement is taken out of context, as he went on to say that it would be political suicide to raise this on the agenda at the current time.
“no civil servants in the EU institutions.” – you’d better walk around your own offices in Brussels, as you will find plenty of Norwegian civil servants there. My dad has been one of them for a period of time!
IMHO Norway seems to have gotten the best of the deal, few of the disadvantages but almost all of the advantages of a full membership. It lets me work in the UK with no formalities and requiring no work permit or visa…
I do not say that the UK should leave the EU btw., I just want to correct some of the inaccuracies in the story.