Norway has earned between 6-8 billion euro a year on membership in the EEA

A calculation from the European Commission estimates that Norway has increased it GDP with 6-8 billion Euro’s a year as a direct consequence of their membership in the European Economic Area (EEA), which gives Norwegian business access to the internal market in the same way as EU-members. The calculation was leaked to Norwegian media today and has apparently been used as leverage to push Norway into increasing their contributions to new EU member states in the re-negotiations of the EEA-agreement.

The current negotiations between the EU and the EEA states on the other side (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) have been running for the past months. They are meeting again today to try to settle their differences and reach an agreement. Norway has traditionally paid most of the bill, around 97 % of it, and is doing what it can to minimize its contribution to the EU. The money that Norway has paid so far to access the internal market, has mainly been spent in the new member states through two separate funds:

The money is supposed to support projects within areas such as the environment, cultural heritage, health and childcare and more. The total amount has been 300 million euro a year, and apparently the Commission is keen on gradually increasing that amount to 500 million euro a year. In comparison, Sweden paid around 2,5 billion euro for their membership in the EU in 2006.

It is a question of solidarity for Norway

The Commission calculation clearly shows that Norway has benefitted much from its membership in the EEA. The question now is: how much shall Norway pay for its continued membership in the internal market? It is obvious to me that Norway should pay more for access to the internal market as the EU has enlarged since the last negotiation and it will include new member states in the next five year period.

It is first and foremost a question of solidarity as Norway is one of the richest countries in Europe and the money is going to development in some of the poorest countries in the Europe. I can understand that Iceland might have problems with their cash flow at the moment, but I cannot understand that Norway shouldn’t.

It would be a final irony if Iceland pushed Norway into increasing its share and then benefit from the money once if it becomes a member in a few years.

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