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Politics For Members

Why the European election results are important for Norway

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
Why the European election results are important for Norway
A person holds an EU flag at the European Parliament building, during an election evening in Strasbourg, on June 9th, 2024, after the vote for the European Parliament election. Photo by: SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

The European Parliament shifted to the right after Sunday's elections, bringing in more eurosceptic nationalists. Will these changes have any implications for Norway?

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The European Parliament (EP) took a notable shift to the right after the elections concluded last weekend.

The body is crucial for reviewing and approving new legislation. It often proposes amendments that require agreement with European Union (EU) governments before any rules or directives can take effect.

READ MORE: European elections: What happens next in Brussels after shock results?

In its upcoming term, it will also approve the next president of the European Commission and 26 other commissioners.

These decisions and the European Parliament's overall direction can influence key policy areas such as defence strategies, climate action, international trade, justice, and more.

So, how does this affect Norway, which isn't an EU member state?

How EU decisions affect everyday life in Norway

The European Union's decisions can - and do - affect Norwegian society in several ways, Lise Rye, Professor of Contemporary European History at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), told The Local.

"The EU's decisions affect Norwegian society in many areas, and sometimes more than we have been able to oversee," Rye said, adding that the "2019 (NAV) benefits scandal is a dramatic example of how demanding it has been to see the importance of EU law for Norwegian society."

READ MORE: Norway’s NAV social security scandal in five minutes

"This scandal is, however, also illustrative of how EU decisions can give rights to citizens of an EU third country that national legislation cannot set aside," she said.

Furthermore, despite not being a full EU member, Norway remains connected to the EU through more than 100 agreements.

"The most important is the EEA agreement, which makes Norway and two other European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries part of the EU's internal market.

"Other agreements link Norway to the EU in important areas such as climate policy, security and defence policy, and justice and home affairs," Rye said.

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The history between Norway and the EU

Over the past six decades, Norway has flirted with joining the European Economic Community (EEC) or the European Union (EU) several times, but each attempt has faced strong opposition.

EXPLAINED: Why Norway isn't a member of the European Union

Norway's relationship with Europe began in the 1960s when it applied for EEC membership, mainly because the UK was doing the same.

In the 1960s, Norway's government applied for EEC membership twice, but both times, French President Charles De Gaulle's veto of the UK's application also blocked Norway's chances.

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In 1972, Norway had another chance through a referendum, but 53.5 percent of voters rejected membership. This decision came before Norway discovered oil in the North Sea, making the rejection more about cultural or ideological reasons.

Norway ultimately chose the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement in 1992, which allowed it to access the EU internal market without giving up too much control over its policies.

However, while the EEA Agreement preserves Norwegian sovereignty, it limits its influence over legislation.

As a non-EU member, Norway doesn't have a seat at the table where these decisions are made and can't hold decision-makers accountable like EU member countries can.

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