Blog: Surviving Brexit: twelve lessons from Norway
TransCrisis blog piece co-authored by Nick Sitter, CPS research affiliate and SPP professor
One year after the referendum, after losing its majority in the general election, the UK government is revising what Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson famously labelled the 'Cake-and-Eat-It' approach to Brexit. In this context, it might be worth asking if there is anything the UK can learn from Norway's quarter of a century experience as a 'quasi-member' of the European Union.
The first lesson is that no lessons apply. Tolstoy wrote that all happy families are alike, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Much the same can be said about European countries that opt out of the EU. Each has its own reason, and its own challenges. But with the exception of Greenland, all experience builds on states that have negotiated closer relations with the EU – not a departure. And back in 1982 it took Greenland three years to negotiate a deal with the far simpler pre-Single Market EEC. Having said that, Norway's experience might still suggest some valuable lessons.
The second lessons is that there is life outside the EU, and it can be quite good. But, non-membership should not be confused with non-integration and non-cooperation with the EU: Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are members of the Single Market through the European Economic Area; Switzerland take part by way of some 100 or so interlinked bilateral deals. If there is political will in the UK, access to the Single Market is feasible.
Continue reading about the third lesson and on at the TransCrisis website.