What now, EEA?

Norway and the EU concept puzzle
The EEA Agreement is 25 year on year. What does Europe mean for Norway, and what does President Macron say about Europe's future?


Europe's significance for Norway is still interesting. In particular, our small country must take defense policy og climate seriously. And President Emmanuel Macron is now on the path for a changed Europe / EU – so where do we stand and what happens?

The Norwegian Foreign Policy Institute (NUPI) has just published the journal International Policy on the EEA, and as Ulf Sverdrup's director writes, both the people and the authorities in this country have been quite positive to the EEA in the 25 years that have passed. The agreement on European Economic Cooperation (EEA) has also simplified "cross-border activity" and "led to a more efficient domestic market, with increased welfare for the community". According to Sverdrup, Norway has a greater advantage EU through the EEA than they have of us.

The Economist,

The market access agreement has been extended along the way to trade in services, work migration (in / out), the common financial market, and its own rules for public support and procurement, competition, research and education. The EEA has "Europeanized" Norway. With access to the EU's internal market, we got something far more than a free trade agreement, where we avoided the option of being blocked out via tariff rates. This puzzle of integrations has doubled to 28 Member States today, where Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are connected via the EEA. It may also be mentioned that when the agreement came into force in 1994, it covered under 2000 acts, but since then it has been added 10 new ones – several thousand of which have been changed or removed along the way. And as Sverdrup points out, the collaboration has been expanded to new areas such as "food, finance, digitalisation and the environment".

The EU has introduced higher environmental standards (see interview with Marianne Auken) and social conditions – so in a way, according to Sverdrup, EU rules have also become more "Nordic".

The role of Europe

But what about Europe in the future – its geopolitical role, sovereignty and defense cooperation? As President Emmanuel Macron said an interview with The Economist Last month, Europe today risks "disappearing geopolitically" by losing control of our destiny – we are almost "ahead of the falls". Well, we have Brexit, and the US's growing isolationism – including Trump's stance "it's your neighborhood, not mine." At the same time, China wants to split Europe to become even more powerful, according to Macron. He also mentions "NATO brain death" and explains: "There is no coordination at all between the United States and its NATO allies on strategic decisions. And NATO allies Turkey have an uncoordinated aggressive activity in an area where our interests are at stake. ”Macron asks NATO article 5 about standing together all that one really wants to apply in the future. Therefore, in a post-NATO era, Europe must strengthen its defense cooperation. The French European Intervention Initiative (EI2) to establish its own European force is an answer in this direction.

Well, European defense cooperation has long been debated and initiated. According to Øyvind Svendsen and Pernille Rieker in International Policy this came to light in earnest after a UK-French summit in St. Malo in 1998: "There, the countries agreed that the EU should establish a common defense policy that could eventually provide the EU with military capabilities and replace the Western Union to which Norway was then associated."

Norway chose to cooperate closely here, which Svendsen and Rieker believe goes under the radar of the Norwegian public, where NATO dominates the word change. But what will Norway do with such cooperation? Whether this is a "small state is seeking status", an objection to a stigma as the "outsider" in Europe, or a hope of greater influence by contributing within the EU defense and security policy – we do not know if it has succeeded. At the back lies at least one EEA -ification of our defense policy.

A reformed and sovereign EU must preserve democratic values, such as solidarity and
individual freedom.

The will for defense and security cooperation in the EU has been great for the last two to three years, according to Svendsen and Rieker. It envisages a strategic partnership with NATO and a so-called permanent structured cooperation in Europe (PESCO). The new European Commission, led by Ursula von der Leyen, has now also established a Defense Fund (EDF) of over 130 billion for research and equipment. New is also a new Franco-German agreement for the production of its own tanks and military aircraft. … Europe, after all, has a neighborhood of authoritarian states like Russia and Turkey.

It might be time to rethink defense, think European security (or Nordic) rather than just state? Why spend huge budgets just on our own, when coordination of common resources must be more affordable? After all, the military is there for deterrence.


But the main point for Europe now is to maintain its sovereignty – not least to preserve the democratic values ​​we are bottled up on – and then we will not get away from showing strength. Of course, this is not just a military issue and it should not be the country's dominant policy, as in the United States. Are we not barbarians?

Von der Leyen wants to lead a "geopolitical commission", and Angela Merkel has stated that "the times when we could rely on others are over". A number of challenges – including climate and the environment – are too large to be handled by some states alone. And what about new epoch-making technology like artificial intelligence? Here, Macron is proposing that Europe promote its own large tech companies, strategic mergers and, perhaps, new taxes on technology by import – something that got Trump in the armory recently. Well, the US and China are investing heavily in artificial intelligence – so why not Europe too, with a portion of ethics on the bargain?

A reformed and sovereign EU – including the EEA – must preserve democratic values, such as solidarity and individual freedom. This applies, for example, to humanitarian solidarity assistance for refugees in great need; minimum criteria for a dignified life; freedom from fear and distress; freedom of speech; freedom of belief and free sexual orientation.

Local and European

What about the next 25 years for the EEA? In an increasingly internationalized world must at the same time local self-determination by nature, the peculiarity of the small town and customs may be at peace – unless one breaks with a basic solidarity and freedom. At the national level, it is sometimes possible to ask whether traditional national sovereignty seems to be waning, even when it comes to, for example, an oil-polluting Norway.

En Europeanisation to stand stronger together, a collaboration on peace (see front page), but also the idea that more wise heads think better and more long-term together – is this not a thought to listen to more?

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