Ever Closer Cooperation? The Limits of the 'Norwegian Method' of European Integration

TitleEver Closer Cooperation? The Limits of the 'Norwegian Method' of European Integration
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsSitter, N., and K. A. Eliassen
Journal titleScandinavian Political Studies
Pages125 - 144

The 'No' majorities in two referendums on European Community/Union (EC/EU) membership have set clear formal limits to Norway's participation in European integration. However, pro-EU parliamentary majorities have tended to produce governments that seek as close cooperation with the EU as possible. This involves a kind of quasi-membership of the EU, particularly in the light of cooperation beyond the limits of the European Economic Area (EEA). The result has been a 'Norwegian method' of European integration that combines access to the Single Market with efforts to 'purchase' participation in other policy areas and adapt to changing EU policies, legislation and treaties. Given the supranational character of the EU's Single Market rules, this kind of quasi-membership goes considerably further than non-members' participation in most other international organisations. Although the EEA system has worked to the parties' satisfaction, Norway's efforts to keep up with a changing Single Market, maintain the institutions in the face of treaty change and enlargement, and accommodate new developments pertaining to the EU's second and third pillars represent considerable challenges to the Norwegian method of integration.


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