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No fax democracy

Sist endret: 27.09.2020

Visiting Britain in the last few weeks before the referendum, very much feels like being in Norway just before our referendum on EU membership in 1994, writes Kjell Dahle, former secretary general of the Centre Party.

 

 

 

Written by Kjell Dahle, former secretary general of the Centre Party of Norway

 

Visiting Britain in the last few weeks before the referendum, very much feels like being in Norway just before our referendum on EU membership in 1994. The scaremongering seems to know no bounds. One day you are threatening world peace if you vote to leave. On the next day you are a risk to property prices in the UK. The most scary part of «Project Fear» seems to be the effects that leaving EU may have on your economy. The Remain side tells you that the same EU which is a symbol of European peace and mutual understanding will punish you severely unless you vote the way they want you to.

 

«Project Fear» is not a British invention. A few days before our 1994 referendum, Prime Minister Thorbjørn Jagland warned Norwegian voters: «Something very bad could happen to Norway» if we voted no. The country's most prominent business leader said: «A no on November 28 implies a lasting letdown starting on November 29.» Norwegian voters were not only warned against «splendid» isolation, but against becoming an Albania close to the North Pole. No less.

 

A majority of the Norwegian people decided to call their bluff. We voted no, and we do not regret it. In fact, what happened after the referendum was the complete opposite of what our pro EU politicians said would happen after a no. Everything they said would go up, went down. And everything they said would go down, went up. Investments were rising after the referendum. Exports rose, too. The Norwegian Crown became stronger. The predicted massive capital flight did not happen. The interest rate decreased from the first day after the referendum. Unemployment in our industry also decreased.

 

David Cameron now tells you that Norway is a fax democracy ruled from Brussels. This is as far from the truth as could possibly be. Our country is now part of the socalled European Economic Agreement (EEA).  This agreement includes Norway in the single market, but we adopt less than ten per cent of EU law making. What regards foreign policy, the EU countries are in fact closer to living in a “fax democracy” than Norway is. The European Union very often speaks with one voice in key international fora. Being outside of the EU, Norway remains an independent voice in Europe.

 

Norway is a small country with only five million inhabitants, but outside of the EU we have become a global player that punches well above our weight. As an independent nation we have been able to play important roles in difficult peace negotiations around the world, for example in the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Haiti, Guatemala and the Phillipines. Norway has also been an important driving force in the UN on biodiversity, climate change measures, conservation of rain forests and disarmament.

 

Our only economic challenges relate to the low oil prices at present. EU membership would not have helped us here. More than 70 per cent of the Norwegians prefer to continue being outside of the EU.