Could Norway 2.0 Work?
When the Brexit debate started back in 2016, one of the options briefly mooted was that the UK could join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and thereby the European Economic Area (EEA). It was quickly rejected by supporters of both Leave and Remain as the worst of both worlds.
The EEA was set up in the 1990s after Norway had voted against membership of the European Union. EU opponents, strongest in northern Norway, were concerned about agriculture and fisheries and public spending support for the north. Supporters, stronger in the south, wanted access to the European Single Market. Under the EEA, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are in the Single Market (except for agriculture and fisheries) but not the EU. This means that they have to accept EU rules without having a vote in making those rules. They are only consulted. They are not in the customs union and so can make their own trade deals, individually or as an EFTA block. They must accept EU freedom of movement rules, subject to an ‘emergency brake’, which has not been invoked except in tiny Liechtenstein. Indeed, any effort to restrict freedom of movement Could put other elements of the arrangement in danger.
Norwegian politicians, officials and academics accept that this may be illogical, but…