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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 entered into force on 1.1.1994. The Agreement extends the EU's Single Market legislation, with the exception of Agriculture and Fisheries Management, from the 27 EU Member States to Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Relations with Norway are close and generally smooth. Norway also has an association agreement with the EU concerning the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis. Since May 1999 Norway has participated in the Schengen work of the Council through a Mixed Committee. The operational parts of the Schengen agreement were implemented in March 2001. In April 2001 the Dublin Convention entered into force in Norway and Iceland. The agreement associates the countries to the common EU-criteria and mechanisms for establishing the State responsible for examining a request for asylum.

Current situation of Norway's relations with the EU

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 organisations including the Nordic, Barents and Baltic Councils, EFTA, OECD, WTO, Council of Europe and OSCE.

Traditional economic activities are shipping and fisheries, along with fish farming. Mining and shipbuilding are gradually being reduced. Oil and gas are Norway's main export products. Almost all of Norway's electricity is produced by hydropower. The EEA Agreement brings Norway into the group of countries with which the EU currently maintains its closest links. In general, economic and commercial relations with Norway are covered by the EEA Agreement, which tends to run smoothly, however fisheries sometimes gives rise to friction between the two parties, mainly because of differences in view regarding the management of shared resources.

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 on which the Commission and the Delegation does have a position.

The current 27 member states are preoccupied with both consolidating and developing a well-functioning cooperation in the framework of the European Union and at the same time looking ahead at future enlargements. Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU 1 January 2007. Furthermore, countries from the Balkan region and Turkey are in different stages in the discussions 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 (Dec)

Agreement on mutual assistance in criminal matters signed

2004 (May)

The EEA Enlargement Agreement entered into force

2005 (Apr)

Eurojust Agreement signed

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. An agreement on fisheries also exists, which is renegotiated annually with regards to access to stocks and fishing conditions.

For more information about the EU's relations with Norway and Iceland please consult the  europa server 

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