The European Union in the World Europakommisjonens delegasjon til Norge og Island
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EU relations with Norway



Political background

Norway’s relations with the EU are mainly governed by the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA). The EEA Agreement is in force since 1.1.1994 and extends the Single Market legislation, with the exception of Agriculture and Fisheries Management, from the 25 EU Member States to Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Relations with Norway are close and generally smooth. Norway also has an association agreement with EU concerning on the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis. Norway participates in the work of the Council through a Mixed Committee as of May 1999 and the operational parts of the Agreement were implemented in March 2001. An agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Iceland and the Kingdom of Norway concerning the criteria and mechanisms for establishing the State responsible for examining a request for asylum entered in force on 1 April 2001.

Current situation of Norway's relations with the EU

Despite two failed attempts by referendum to enter the European Community in 1972 and the European Union in 1994, Norway is solidly attached to the European construction through the EEA Agreement. It is a member of all relevant multilateral organizations including the Nordic, Barents and Baltic Councils, EFTA, OECD, WTO, Council of Europe and OSCE.

Traditional economic activities are shipping (fourth largest fleet in the world) and fisheries, along with which must now be counted fish farming. Mining and shipbuilding, once prosperous, are being more and more reduced. Oil and gas exploitation on the Continental Shelf ensures Norway’s position as second biggest world exporter of these products. Norway belongs to the leading group of the richest countries in the world as measured by GDP/capita. Her mountains and high rainfall allow Norway to generate all her electricity by hydropower. Very high environmental standards are enforced.

In general, economic and commercial relations with Norway are covered by the European Economic Area Agreement, which, after more than seven years of operation, is generally running smoothly.

The EEA Agreement brings Norway into the group of countries with which the EU currently maintains its closest links. Fisheries, where we have differences of view as to the management of shared resources, sometimes give rise to friction.

Questions about EU membership

The EU realises that Norway has already refused membership twice. It has however kept the door open should Norway change its mind with regards to membership. However, it is an internal Norwegian decision which the Delegation does not want to interfere in.

The EU has for the last few years dedicated much of its attention towards EU enlargement. The current 25 member states are preoocupied both with consolidating and developing a well functioning cooperation in the framework of the European Union at the same time as looking ahead at future enlargements. While a new constitution for the EU is in the making,  Bulgaria, Romania as well as the countries from the Balkan region and Turkey are in different stages towards full membership.

Facts about Norway and EU relations


Member of the European Free trade Organization (EFTA)


Applied for EC membership


Second application for EC membership

1972 (Jan)

Signed treaty for accession to EC

1972 (Sep)

Referendum said no to EC membership


Free Trade Agreement with EC

1992 (Mai)

Signed treaty for membership of the EEA

1994 (Jan)

EEA agreement entered into force

1994 (Mar)

Signed treaty for accession to EC

1994 (Nov)

Referandum rejected EC membership

1996 (Des)

Signed Schengen Agreement

2001 (Mar)

Schengen-Agreement entered into force

2003 (Jul)

Signing of the enlarged EEA agreement

The 1973 Free Trade Agreement, the 1994 EEA Agreement and the Schengen Agreement in 2001 are the most important agreements between the EU and Norway. A large number of subsidiary agreements associated with the Free Trade Agreement have been concluded. The EEA Agreement prevails over provisions in existing agreements to the extent they cover the same subject matter There is also an agreement on fisheries, which is the basis for annual negotiation concerning access to stocks, and fishing conditions.

For more information about the EUs relations with Norway and Iceland please consult the europa server 

For information on  Norway’s co-operation with Europe, visit the Norwegian Europa portal