I’m half Norwegian and spend a lot of time in Norway where we have a home. The main reasons Norway has rejected membership of the EU is from the left. You will note the gentleman Derek quotes is a Conservative, from the business class in spohisticated metropolitan Oslo, and he seems to be saying that it’s pretty pointless not being a full member.
The left in Norway is strong (although they currently have a Conservative prime minister – though Norwegian Conservatives are more like the Lib Dems or New Labour) and the left feels that the EU is too right wing and not socially progressive enough. Women particularly feel that. Also the farming sector is very powerful still in Norway and this is not like the Tory landowners over here.
Farms are small family farms and there are powerful rules that prevent people especially foreigners from buying farmland and not cultivating it. This all goes back to the 19th century when it became possible for land to be democratised and it has been a powerful thing in Norwegian national identity since, all these small independent farmers grimly and patriotically eking out a living from the land. Food production in Norway is sacrosanct. The small farmers who are the backbone of Norwegian identity forged powerful links with the Labour and trade union movement in the 19th century.
It might be cheaper today to import food from abroad, that would be the right wing urban Oslo business class Conservative rationale, but the left in Norway says No, small farmers must be protected, food production in Norway must be protected, small farmers are an essential part of the rural economy especially in Trondelag (the west and north) and if they were not protected many areas would see their local economies collapse so rural areas would become depopulated and turn into a desert. That in turn would not be clever from a defence or geostrategic point of view, as Norwegians share a border in the far north with Russia and are very keenly aware of the need to monitor what the Russians get up to there.
So despite the Oslo business class Norwegians as a whole support these agricultural policies even if food is more expensive as a result. They have no wish to be dictated to by Europe in matters such as fundamental to Norway’s traditional economy and national identity such as fishing and farming.by