The Norwegian population said no to EU membership, not once, but twice; in the 1972 and the 1994 referendums. Why? Only years before the 1972 referendum it became clear that Norway’s economy was in for a major boost, facilitating unprescedented wealth for one of Europe’s up until then poorest nations. A wealth which definitely had taken effect by 1994, at which point we turned down membership once more.
Even though we were stinking rich at the time, the debate revolved around this single issue: What’s in it for us? Of course it ought to be “How can we contribute for the European greater good,” but no. What we need to remember, is: This is Norway, strikingly characterised by playwright Henrik Ibsen in this very descriptive Peer Gynt quote:
Man, be thyself. Troll, to thyself be – enough.
There’s wide consensus that this statement in fact describes a very typical Norwegian trait: Egoism, which Ibsen himself criticised – by way of trolls. A trait very much alive even today, manifesting itself in our no to the European Union.
Now you turn us down
Keeping to yourself – and, by all means, keeping your wealth to yourself – is all just fine and dandy when things are going your way, but that just may not last for ever, which is what some have come to realise. We see it in Iceland, who, by the way, turned an EU membership down, too, is beginning to feel the credit crunch’s effect, only days after the nationalisation of its leading bank, Glitnir. According to Norwegian online daily VG Nett Icelandic trade unions have started talking of an EU membership as a means of support to Icelandic banks.
This in turn has lead the Norwegian European Movement to deem a renewed Norwegian application inevitable.
If so, please remember that we turned you down twice when you needed us. I suggest you do the same when we need you, which inevitably we will, once our oil and gas resources are out.
Serves us right.