A referendum on joining the European Union was held in Norway on 27 and 28 November 1994. But, the "No campaign" won the referendum.

One of the reason was that, Norway has an economy based on natural resources (oil and fish), meanwhile the European union mostly consist of industrial countries.

What would Norway have lost in case of joining to EU then?

  • I don't understand the use of the future tense in the question. Is there another referendum planned in Norway? Jun 24, 2018 at 19:37
  • Also as a generic answer: All the usual stuff that you lose and win when you join the EU. It's not really depending on which country joins. The question may rather ask for which of these things was especially important for Norwegians at the time. Jun 24, 2018 at 19:39
  • I suspect (from the other mistakes in the question) that the questioner should have written, and meant, "would", not "will".
    – JdeBP
    Jun 24, 2018 at 19:45

4 Answers 4


The common fisheries policy is a EU wide system for managing fish stocks in the waters around the EU. It intends to give all EU fishing fleets equal access to EU waters. If Norway were to join the EU it would have to join the CFP. Outside the EU, Norway can control its own waters, which are rich in natural resources. The right of access to EU fisheries may not compensate for the increased competition from other nations.

  • 16
    Don't forget that Norway still hunts whales, which is forbidden in the EU. Jun 23, 2018 at 13:31
  • 5
    Commercial Hunting of whales is forbidden worldwide by the IWC (Norway is not a member of the IWC either). But the whale hunt is not a major part of the Norwegian economy.
    – James K
    Jun 23, 2018 at 14:31
  • 3
    @JamesK Whale hunting might not be a major part of the economy but surely of the culture (otherwise they would hardly continue it, if almost all others condemn the practice and the economic value is close to zero). Killing whales is one defining thing for Norway (probably not all Norwegians though). Within the EU it would probably be harder to continue with it than outside. Jun 25, 2018 at 12:49

Although the 'No' vote won the 1994 referendum in Norway it's worth looking at the actual voting figures. This shows that 47.8% were in favour of joining, and 52.2% were not. So the vote was very close - a 2% swing would have resulted in a tied vote. What this means is that as a whole, Norway was split evenly between the two sides and hence unsure of which policy was best to pursue.

Norway's economy need not have lost out by joining the EU by negotiating protections for what they considered vital parts of their economic infrastructure from what they might take as as unfair competition from larger, more industrialised and more wealthier European nations; after all, there are protections already built into the Common European Fisheries Policy; this policy allows equal access to all European waters for any European fishing fleet; however, the traditional fishing grounds of fishing fleets are protected by two boundaries - within twelve nautical miles of the coastline, and also within a hundred nautical miles. This protection is due to lapse in 2022; but at the time of the referendum - in 1994 - this would have been a generation away; Norway, could have argued by virtue of its high reliance on their fisheries, this protection should last in their case, rather than thirty years, say fifty years; this gives them plenty of time to adjust; instead, by putting themselves outside of that framework, Norway has lost the right of shaping that framework.

Having said that, Yannis Varoufakis, the ex-finance minister of Greece - another small nation within the EU - has lambasted the EU for its opaque structure, and its democratic deficit; his solution is not to withdraw from it, but to reform it.

  • 19
    (+1) The last paragraph seems a bit random, it's not that Varouflakis point of view is necessarily uninteresting but it was made in a widely different context and is just one of many many opinions about the EU. What does that have to do with Norway's decision not to join the EU?
    – Relaxed
    Jun 23, 2018 at 15:21
  • 1
    @relaxed: see the last couple of sentences of the penultimate paragraph beginning with 'by putting themselves outside of that framework...' Jun 23, 2018 at 18:38
  • 1
    @MoziburUllah OK and what's the connection between this or the question at hand and the last paragraph?
    – Relaxed
    Jun 24, 2018 at 12:09
  • 2
    @MoziburUllah If that's what you meant to explain, it's extremely unclear. You're not stating that point and instead focusing on just one of many critics of the EU structure (and a point many have made before). You would improve the answer by removing that paragraph and copying your comment instead.
    – Relaxed
    Jun 24, 2018 at 17:13
  • 1
    @MoziburUllah That also makes no sense, clarity is the ability to communicate your ideas to others...
    – Relaxed
    Jun 25, 2018 at 12:51

One thing Norway would have lost is the sovereignty over its fisheries policies. It's not so much that the impact would have necessarily been negative on the economy as a whole but fisheries (very much including whale hunting, no matter how small that activity may be economically speaking) are a hugely symbolic issue.

In fact, Norway's current quasi-membership (through the EEA and EFTA) forces it to contribute to the EU structural funds (the so-called “Norway grants”) and to implement most of the single market rules with little to no influence on the making of these rules but it preserves the country's autonomy regarding agricultural policies and fisheries.

Finally, Norway's oil wealth means that EU membership and participation in the single market is somewhat less important for the country than it is for EU member states. It's not so much that they stand to lose a lot but simply that they can maintain a high revenue without it (that's the point behind the natural resources vs. industrial countries comparison you heard about it).


If Norway joins the euro, first and foremost, she will lose her most important asset, which is her national currency, that is, her sovereignty and control of her economy via her own monetary policies. That is enough to guarantee a downward spiral for the people of Norway, like every other EU country has experienced, except a couple ones -mostly Germany, that take advantage and gain a lot from the downfall of the indebted southern countries, like Greece, Spain, Ireland, Portugal, Italy, but even northern ones like France also suffer from the EU policies. Germany is in good shape (although even the German people have lost a lot), because of that factor and because of unequal treatment -like borrowing with zero or negative interest in contrast to those countries.

Meanwhile, the eurozone is very fragile and this is why Germany has bought huge amounts of gold the recent years. For example, recently Italy was prevented from taking a turn against the euro and its policies as is the wish of the majority of its people, with the president Sergio Mattarella violating the article 92 of Italy's constitution (which was considered a coupe), preventing Paolo Savona (an anti-euro economist) from becoming finance minister and suggesting a government of "technocrats" instead (=bankers). After the intense reactions of the Italian people, a second order was given to Giuseppe Conte instead to form a government, but Giovanni Tria, a pro-euro economist was given the position of finance minister, so EU got back the wheel of Italy's economy.

EDIT For those in doubt: Germany repatriated 700 tons of gold and became the second worldwide in gold reserves. World’s 2nd-Largest Hoard

Also: Germans Have Quietly Become The World's Biggest Buyers Of Gold

EDIT #2: The above link (Forbes) can only be accessed by turning ad blocker off. But you can access the source of the chart bellow. https://www.gold.org/research/market-update/market-update-german-investment-market

Those hundreds of tonnes of gold per year are bought mostly by banks and between them a national one (KFW) that is the main stockholder in companies like Deutche Telecom. If the euro and eurozone is solid and has a bright future, why the strongest oligarchy in Germany buys tonnes of gold?

German investment market -2017


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