North Norway against EU

Only 14 percent of north Norway is in favor of joining the EU, poll finds

The Local

The poll, conducted by InFact on behalf of national broadcaster NRK and Avisa Nord­land, shows that 74 percent of respondents in northern Norway are against EU membership, while 13 percent responded that they were unsure.

“I am against the EU. The way it has become, with so much bureaucracy, I don’t think that would be right for us. It’s time to rethink things,” Bodø resident Jan Møller told NRK.

North Norway voted 28.6 percent for and 71.4 percent against EU membership in Norway’s 1994 referendum, compared to the nationwide result of 52.2 percent against and 47.8 percent for.

Norway’s rejection of EU membership but close links to the bloc through its membership in the European Economic Area (EEA) was often cited as a model Britain could follow in the lead up to the recent Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg recently stated that the British vote would not have any bearing on Norway’s EEA status.

Kjell Ingebrigtsen of the Norwegian Fisherman’s Association (Norges Fiskarlag) told NRK that he found it reassuring that the response to the poll was so convincing.

“We have so many advantages here in the north, particularly with regard to fishing, that we are better able to take advantage of independently,” said Ingebrigtsen. “It’s important that we are able to make are own decisions on how to catch the various fish species.”

Ingebrigtsen said that he believed savings made by removing EU tax barriers would not offset the loss of earnings from Norway losing full control over its fishing industry.

But former MP Ivar Kristiansen told NRK that, while the poll was not surprising, being outside of the EU was bad for the growth of the region in the long term.

“Staying out has preventing the region from having the growth and population increase that we could have had. We are also missing out on enormous wealth creation by keeping the fishing industry out. Now we are being marginalized.”

Kristiansen said that scaremongering and constant warnings are to blame for the numbers produced by the poll. “We are the region that is most dependent on having the best possible conditions and market access to Europe… economically we are able to get by on oil and gas. We have been able to afford to stay out, but that will not always necessarily be the case. Europe is a safe haven in uncertain times like these,” the former politician told NRK.

This article was originally published on The Local.

It also appeared in the July 29, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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