October 28, 2015 by Nash Riggins
David Cameron is fairly clear about many things. For example, he hates The Human Rights Act. He loves dropping bombs on Syria. More importantly, he’s partial to a good pasty. But if there’s one thing the PM doesn’t like to be clear about, it’s where he stands on Europe. To be fair, he can’t really afford to be.
Mr Cameron’s shock election win is already proving a poisoned chalice of sorts. The PM believes in Europe, but his retention of power was only borrowed under the presumption that he would allow his party’s ever-growing amoeba of Eurosceptics their day in the sun. Consequently, his support for Brussels is lackadaisical at best, and tends to fall on deaf ears. So long as Number 10 continues to tiptoe around belligerent backbenchers, more and more UK voters seem to be flirting with the potential gains of a Brexit.
To what end, you ask?
For years, restless Tories and ostentatious UKIP supporters have been gushing about the detached relationship Norway enjoys with Brussels. From the outside looking in, the whole thing is sunshine and rainbows. Norway is a small, oil-rich country with a high quality of life. Its citizens enjoy free trade with Europe without having to sit in on those frightfully dull meetings in Brussels, and they don’t have to follow every single EU law. Surely if Britain were to pursue such a relationship, we could all live happily ever after, right?
What a joke.
Britain could stick its middle finger up at Jean-Claude Juncker and try to be like Norway, sure. But if you look a little bit closer, it’s plain to see that Oslo is in a loveless and abusive relationship with Brussels. Only an idiot would want the same thing for Britain – and thankfully, Mr Cameron has decided to put on his big boy pants this week and explain to Eurosceptics why the Norway model “won’t work” for Britain. For once, backbenchers would do well to listen.
In the 1990s, consolidation was all the rage. Everybody wanted to jump on the EU bandwagon. Yet after staging two referendums, Norway still refused to join. Why? Oslo wanted to have its cake and eat it, too. So, Norwegians decided on a healthy compromise: they would join the European Economic Area, while steering well clear of the pesky union that we all seem to love complaining about so much. Do you wanna know how that worked out?
Over the past two decades, Norway has gained access to the single market – proving a huge economic boost. But in doing so, it has sacrificed economic sovereignty. Despite not being a member of the EU, Norwegians must adhere to nearly three-quarters of all EU acts. Oslo is forced to contribute some €340m a year to the EU budget without question, and has no say how that money’s spent. Better yet, thanks to Norway’s subscription to freedom of movement, the country actually plays home to more immigrants per capita than our own xenophobic Britannia.
All in all, it doesn’t take a master economist to figure out that Norway’s relationship with the EU is a tale of tough compromise. In fact, it’s actually pretty shit. In wanting to align itself with Europe’s economy, Oslo has utterly sacrificed its voice. Norwegians help fund the EU and abide by most of its laws, but have absolutely no say whatsoever in what those laws are. Is that really the sort of Britain Eurosceptics want? High immigration, no economic sovereignty and no way to try and change laws we don’t like?
There are some things about Norway we should be envious of. It’s got no crime to speak of, puts on lots of fun Viking festivals and has a $900bn rainy day fund. But we need to face facts: Norway is in an abusive relationship with Europe. David Cameron is a flip-flopping mess where the EU is concerned, but even he can spot the dangers from a mile away. Why would Britain walk openly into such a loveless marriage?