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EU points warning finger at Norway

Norwegian fjords are nice, but Norwegian EU policies are not, Brussels say. Photo: Atle Staalesen

A new report from the Commission displays an increasing European annoyance over rich Norwegians’ protectionist trade policies and negligence of EU law.

According to the report, which is to be published later this year, Norway is failing to live up to its obligations as a member of the European Economic Area (EEA). The Scandinavian country has failed to include as many as 427 EU acts in its legislation. In addition, Norway has “resisted EU efforts for ambitious liberalisation”, the draft document obtained by Euractiv.com reads.

“This problem is of great concern for the EU side and should be solved as a matter of urgency,” the report states.

Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson of Catherine Ashton, the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy confirms that the EU is looking into the possibilities for sanctions within the EEA agreement’s frame.

Norway has the last seven years been ruled by a three-party government coalition, which includes the Center Party and the Socialist Left party, both of them strongly skeptical towards European integration. In 2012, the Ministry of Agriculture, headed by Center Party deputy leader Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, first boosted import tax on hydrangeas from the EU by 72 percent and soon followed up with a 277 percent tax on cheese and a meat tax of up to 429 percent.

Several European countries soon expressed irritation over the new Norwegian trade barriers.

Danish Member of the Euroean Parliament Bendt Bendtsen says to Euractiv that Norway is acting “selfishly” and that it only wants the “cream on the cake”. Bendtsen says EU should consider to hit the powerful and export-dependent Norwegian fishing industry, or even go further – to expel the country from the EEA.

Also Sweden is increasingly annoyed by the Norwegian trend. In a comment in newspaper Expressen, Swedish analyst and columnist Eric Erfors writes that “Sweden and the EU should stop dealing with these oil-doped and spoilt Norwegians”. He underlines that “the current Norwegian free-rider mentality is deeply offensive” and argues that Swedish Premier Reinfeldt should take a serious talk with his Norwegian counterpart Jens Stoltenberg.

“Yes, of course, dear Norwegians, you can isolate yourselves from the surrounding world and lock yourselves up in some cabin in the Hardanger Fjord”, Erfors writes.