The people of Norway voted No to membership in the EU in November 1994. But a year before this the Norwegian government signed the EEA treaty. This treaty was only put before the Parliament, even though its consequences are more far reaching than the question of membership for Norway in 1973, when the people voted No the first time. The contents of the EEA are well known to you: free movement of capital, goods, services and labour. One can say that Norway is a member of the inner market, but without any direct influence over decisions in the EU.
The consequences of the EEA are the same in Norway as in the rest of the EU when it comes to the integrated market: factories cannot be subsidised like they used to be. On example is Rena Papp, a cardboard factory that was closed down, even though the government and certain private investors were willing to put in more finances. The reason was that the additional funding from the government would be against the rules of the EEA.
But Norway is getting even more integrated by new agreements with the EU. The two most central are an agreement on free exchange of food produce and the question of Norway joining the Schengen agreement. Norway is already a member of the WEU.
The new agreement on free exchange of food means that Norway can no longer control imported food at the borders. Norwegian cows, poultry aso have a much better standard of health than what is usual in the EU. This has to do with the fact that our farming industry is less industrialised than in the EU with small subsidised farms. Now that food cannot be stopped at the border, the control of the food cannot be done before it is in the shops, and when it comes to diseases like Salmonella this is too late. The shops do not have to mark the food when it comes to the country of origin, so the consumer doesn't know what she's buying.
Norway is now preparing to be a member of the Schengen agreement. This means many more things than complying to the EU immigration rules and asylum rules. It has e.g the consequence that Russian trawlers no longer can deliver fish at the port of their choosing, but that they will have to deliver to ports where there is an immigrations and tariff control a.s.o. This means that many fish factories and harbours for receiving fish will be closed, and centralisation will be stronger than ever along the Norwegian coast.
I could continue, with examples, but I would like to say something about the political struggle:
The EEA agreement has now been working for some years. Now those forces that are pro EU say: why be members in reality and not have any say in the EU? So they have now started a new campaign for EU membership. The next election campaign to the parliament in 2001 will surely have as its main topic: For or against EU membership.
The organisation No to EU, that is the mass organisation for EU resistance, had more than 150.000 members in its height before the referendum in 1994. It has now, in a slack period, over 30.000 members, and is one of the biggest mass organisations in Norway. It said already when the EEA was signed that it would function as a slide in the Norwegian society, making Norway more and more alike EU. Never has an analysis been more correct!
Our job will be to show that the answer for Norway is not joining the EU, but to cancel the EEA agreement. And use the agreements on mutual free trade of industrial goods that Norway has had with the EU for many decades. The point is not to forward integration, but to reverse it.
Can we win the next political battle? Yes, if there is a referendum. But now some parts of the elite is trying to avoid a referendum over a negotiated result, which is what has been the theme in the two earlier referendums. Now they are trying to bring about a situation where the theme of a referendum is whether or not Norway should negotiate membership with the EU or not. And not have a referendum over the result of the negotiations. The vast difference between the to methods is that people are generally more positive to negotiating and investigating, than to the end result of such negotiations. You know: Anybody can make more or less good predictions about the concrete outcome of negotiations. But it is the end result that counts, the elite wants to avoid a referendum over the result.
The 3 main themes in the struggle are:
We have the evidence on our side that integration with the EU leads to the undermining of sovereignty, much less democracy, and more unemployment, and a deconstruction of the welfare state, including privatisation.
We can win the third referendum, if there will be one like the two former referendums. We will win by developing closer ties with the people of the EU that are fighting against Euroland, Maastricht and for a democratic, prosperous Europe based on the free interaction of sovereign states.