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The right of reservation in the EEA Agreement

During the EEA negotiations in 1992, the EU had to agree to grant Norway a reservation right so that the EEA agreement would not conflict with the Constitution. The right of reservation is therefore constitutionally a central part of the EEA agreement.

The EEA agreement is what is called a "dynamic" agreement. The content of the agreement changes all the time. These changes come because the EU is constantly expanding and changing its legislation. In the areas covered by the EEA Agreement, such changes shall, as required, also apply to Norway. In order for this not to be in conflict with the Constitution, Norway was given a right of reservation in the EEA agreement.

When the EEA agreement was to be approved by the Storting in the autumn of 1992, the reservation right was presented as a guarantee that the EEA agreement could not impose on us rules we strongly opposed.

For EEA opponents, the right of reservation is the only conciliatory feature of the EEA agreement. The right of reservation makes it possible to fight the EEA agreement from within – by mobilizing such a strong opinion when Norwegian interests and values ​​are threatened by new EU rules, that a Norwegian reservation becomes politically necessary. This struggle to use the right of reservation is at its core a struggle against the neoliberal basis for the EU, the unrestrained flow of goods, services, capital and labor, to have full impact in Norway.

For EU supporters, however, the right of reservation in the EEA is an issue. They want to enter an EU where no Member State has any reservation rights to new EU rules for the internal market. They will therefore oppose using a reservation right which becomes a stronger argument against EU membership every time it is used.

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