In for Hatter's Sake
Half in, half out of Europe – that’s great if you’re Norway
As Lisbon reopens the old splits, there is an alternative to full membership. But would it work for Britain?
...To the rational observer, half in and half out seems exactly the right place to be — for Norway. Its economic agreement with Europe does come with strings attached, but none of them binds Oslo to policies that damage its national interests. Its relationship with the EU is exactly that which, 30 years ago, stickers in thousands of British motor-car rear windows were demanding: free trade without political union.
For Norway, Edward Heath’s promise has been kept. There has been “no unacceptable loss of sovereignty”. But as Norwegians will happily agree, Norway is special. An à la carte Europe is not available to Britain, although in Bergen and Oslo last week I dared not say why. Half in and half out of Europe is a status for small countries happy to remain on the margin of big decisions.
So the benefit we get from Europe is that clapped out political losers can posture and pretend they have influence, I wonder why Roy Hattersley thinks that is a price worth paying?