It’s time for a new Norwegian debate on the EU

“Støre’s fear for Europe” was the title of the editorial in the newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) on October 19. It is based on a statement by Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre in the book “Jonas and the War”, which Aftenposten’s political editor Kjetil B. Alstadheim had written a few days earlier.

Photo: Rune Øidne Reinertsen / Friend of the Fatherland

Støre argues here that several of the collective challenges facing the world today, such as pandemics, war in Europe, the energy crisis and inflation, should not lead us to start a new debate on possible membership of Norway to the EU, as it could lead to “division and polarization at a time when we need to be united.”

As a leader, DN seems to strongly disagree with this idea, and for good reason. As the newspaper rightly points out: “What Støre forgets is that the crises of recent years have transformed the EU. The Union has acquired competences in new areas, such as cooperation on health, energy and defense.

I have mentioned Norway’s relations with the EU several times in my regular comments here at Fædrelandsvennen, and I have received a lot of criticism about it. But I will do it again, because European cooperation within the EU is something completely different today than it was when a majority of Norwegian voters voted no to membership in 1994.

Not only is the EU engaging as a community in an increasing number of important policy areas for Norway, for example those mentioned by Støre. But as opinion polls show, trade union cooperation in general and in these areas in particular is also supported by a much higher number of residents of EU countries than before.

In such a world, it should perhaps be obvious that, on the Norwegian side, we would be better served by being a member of the EU.

Støre’s fear of division and polarization is easy to understand when we look back at the two referendums we held in this country on membership of the EU in 1994 and the European Communities (EC) in 1972. This was one of the most divisive referendums. questions filled with our political history. But Støre’s fear is just as bad when it comes to our relationships with the outside world.

As the global human rights organization Freedom House shows in its annual report on the state of democracy in the world, in 2022 the number of democracies in the world has declined for the 17th consecutive year.

This bodes ill at a time when the United States’ role as a beacon of liberal democracy, its military superiority, and its economic hegemony are under increasing pressure, and a growing number of countries seem geopolitically equally willing to ally with non-democratic states other than the United States. the Democrats.

British historian Niall Ferguson, for example, recently pointed out that China has acquired an increasingly strong position in a changing world. Russia and Iran are also important decision-makers, alongside China, in what he calls an “axis of bad intentions.”

Russia’s war in Ukraine has divided the international community of states and created a terrifying dividing line within the UN. According to Ferguson, only 38 countries more or less strongly support Ukraine in the war against Russia. There’s the United States, Canada and what he calls Western European countries, as well as Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Ferguson is supported by Financial Times commentator Gideon Rachman, who pointed out earlier this week that China was challenging the US-led alliance of Western democracies with the construction of military bases in the South China Sea and its threats against Taiwan. While Iran supports powerful anti-democratic movements such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas with its headquarters in Gaza, and Houthi rebels in Yemen to challenge US allies and friendly states in the Middle East.

Today’s world is characterized by what Jared Cohen of global investment bank Goldman Sachs has aptly called “the rise of geopolitical swing states”: in Norwegian we can perhaps call this the rise of “Geopolitical swing states,” which are just as likely. ally with non-democratic and democratic regimes.

In such a world, it should perhaps be obvious that, on the Norwegian side, we would be better served by being a member of the EU, and that this must outweigh the discomfort of a debate on membership” here at home. , as Prime Minister Støre fears.

This applies especially after Finland became a member of NATO and Sweden will probably be next to follow. Since the two countries joined Denmark, a member of both the EU and NATO since 1972, and which last summer, by referendum, lifted its reservations regarding its exclusion from military cooperation of the EU.

This could give the three Nordic EU countries, Denmark, Finland and Sweden, a much stronger political role also within the transatlantic defense alliance NATO as the EU and NATO have developed increasingly close political-strategic cooperation.

In January this year, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and two EU leaders, Charles Michel of the European Council and Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission, signed a third strategic cooperation agreement. It is affirmed here that the EU is a unique and essential partner for NATO, since both organizations face common challenges in the current geopolitical situation. Norway is not part of this political cooperation between NATO and the EU because it is not a member of the EU.

Among other reasons, it is time to join Norway, so that we can participate in political decision-making processes that concern our security and our geopolitical place in an increasingly uncertain world where democracy and human rights man are in decline.

Darell Ferguson

"Tv guru. Analyst. Lifelong alcohol junkie. Friendly bacon specialist. Twitter nerd."

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