The democratic deficit is the price Norway pays for being outside the EU

Outside and Inside - Norway’s agreements with the European Union (published by Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Some British Eurosceptics continually refer to the Norwegian model of being outside the EU but able to trade with it.  As it happens, the Norwegian government has just published a comprehensive review of its relationship with the European Union (“Outside and Inside – Norway’s agreements with the European Union”, http://www.regjeringen.no/pages/36798821/PDFS/NOU201220120002000EN_PDFS.pdf)

Of particular note is the following section (starting on page 7):

The most problematic aspect of Norway’s form of association with the EU is the fact that Norway is in practice bound to adopt EU policies and rules in a broad range of issues without being a member and without voting rights. This raises democratic problems. Norway is not represented in decision-making processes that have direct consequences for Norway, and neither do we have any significant influence on them. Moreover, our form of association with the EU dampens political engagement and debate in Norway and makes it difficult to monitor the Government and hold it accountable in its European policy.

This is not surprising; the democratic deficit is a well-known aspect of the EEA Agreement that has been there from the start. It is the price Norway pays for enjoying the benefits of European integration without being a member of the organisation that is driving these developments. Although the democratic problems are as great today as they were 20 years ago – and have in fact increased – this is a situation that the broad political majority has been willing to accept and that many have become accustomed to.

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