While many no longer care, 72 percent of Norwegians say they do no want the country to join the EU, according to new numbers from pollster Synovate. As crisis upon crisis sweeps the continent, 65 percent of the pro-EU Conservative party was revealed to be against joining.
One member of 'No to the EU' — an organization promoting Norway’s role in the non-bloc European Economic Area — said Norwegians “will not choose voluntarily to board the Titanic”.
The group's director, Heming Olaussen, said the economic criticism against the countries of the Mediterranean amounted to an attack on democracy.
“Greece is being held hostage to the EU leaders’ spiel to save the euro, whatever the cost for ordinary people,” Olaussen told The Local, pointing out that 43 percent of the country’s young people were unemployed.
“The EU’s 'help' has taken away people’s faith in the future, created peril and social unrest along with an enormous lack of confidence in the political system,” he added.
Olaussen’s countrywide public speaking tours have brought packed halls of listeners, just as business leaders continue to push for closer EU ties.
As in other countries, Norwegian business dailies have been chronicling the “ticking bomb” of European sovereign debt. On Tuesday, markets slumped in Oslo and a “mini-crash” was declared as values dropped.
The harried Greek government’s decision to let a national vote decide borrowing and austerity measures could affect Norwegians, since the emergence of a strong krone would harm exports.
But Greece’s hardship is helping Norway’s anti-EU lobby.
“It was the best no vote ever,” Olaussen said of the country's decision not to join the union.
“Never before has the difference been 60 percent between 'yes' and 'no',” he added.
Anti-EU Norwegians have been strengthened, he said, by Brussels’ handling of the financial crisis. Critics have been appalled by what they see as the detachment of EU leaders from the citizens the union was making “more powerless and unemployed”, said Olaussen.