'Don't quit like we did': Norwegian PM gives Britain an EU warning

Erna Solberg, leader of the Conservative party in Norway, became prime minister last year
Erna Solberg, leader of the Conservative party in Norway, became prime minister last year
Ian Dunt By

The prime minister of Norway has warned Britain not to go down the road followed by her country and quit the EU, in a remarkable statement ahead of a meeting with David Cameron.

Erna Solberg, who is coming to the UK for the first since she became prime minister last year, said staying out of the EU but within the single market gave her country even less chance to set the rules.

"I don't believe that Great Britain, with its old empire mind-set, should consider becoming a member of an organisation which basically means that laws and rules which are made in other countries are implemented directly," she told NTB newswires.

"I do not think that's a realistic thing right now."


Norway is often cited by eurosceptics as an example of a successful European state choosing to stay out of the EU, but Solberg suggested the picture in her country is far less rosy than is sometimes suggested.

"I think those in the British debate who look at Norway's association underestimate how closely connected we actually are with many of the laws and rules they are annoyed with," she said.

She also made it clear that it was in Norway's interests for Britain to stay in the EU, where it could provide a brake on pushes towards further integration.

"We are better served if there are countries in the EU who are concerned that should not be a fast train but instead want to ensure that the cooperation we already have today works better," she said.

Norway held its referendum on EU membership in 1994, when it opted to stay out but remain part of the European Economic Area (EEA).

That gave it access to the single market but also meant it had to subscribe to its regulations – without having a say in their formulation.

Solberg is also likely to discuss energy issues during her talk with Cameron. The country supplies about a quarter of UK gas and wants state power company Statnett to be able to build an underwater cable to the UK.

Talks are also expected to cover the case of Joshua French, a joint British Norwegian citizen on trial in the Congo for murdering his cellmate.

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