On a day like today, as Europe celebrates the Treaty of Rome’s 60th anniversary, I shamefully find myself a citizen of a country that, not once, but twice rejected the European Union, due to the emergence of a wealth that it had no intention of sharing with its fellow Europeans.
An egotism that became evident also as Middle Eastern refugees started pouring into Europe, prompting the most selfish and, perhaps, the most xenophobic countries to close their borders. Among which my own, currently priding itself of one of the world’s harshest refugee and immigration regimes, as a confirmation of our double EU dismissal.
Discouraging as it may sound, rest assured, though, that there are those among us who restlessly advocate a Norwegian EU membership, in spite of the nationalistic and isolationist attitudes currently characterising Norwegian politics.
On behalf of those I beg your forgiveness, in the hope that our fellow countrymen will one day be able to consider the world and the choices we have to make without asking «what’s in it for us» – as I’m sorry to say we usually do.
Photo: The European Union and the world. Photo from the European Commission.
The European parliament voted in favour of a motion calling for a freeze in the European Union’s accession talks with Turkey today – talks that perhaps shouldn’t be held in the first place, as only 3 percent of Turkey’s landmass, the occupied East Tracian territories on the European side of the Bosphorus (please note the strait’s Greek name), remains European, geographically speaking – culturally not so much.
As an avid federalist I’ve been advocating a federation encompassing more than just Europe, in which case it will no longer be European, of course, just as the prospective inclusion of Turkey will render the European Union everything but European.
That fact alone is an argument against inclusion, not just a suspension of talks. Just as deterring, of course, is a government prone to totalitarian ways.
Fully aware that I’m wasting my breath, I’d just like to reiterate my stand for the record, all for the future pleasure of being able to say «I hate to say I told you so». That’s the kind of smug bastard I am.
But by all means, go ahead and make the European Union semi-European.
Interestingly I’m citizen of a European country, much like Great Britain not interested in being one, whereas the Turks are Asians with a burning desire to be just that.
It’s all beyond me.
Top photo: European flags in Brussels (photograph from the European Union).
I’ve said it before and I’m more than happy to reiterate:
I fear not for Britain’s future, should the upcoming referendum yield a resounding nay to a continued EU membership. They will manage, as they always have, resourceful as they are, in every conceivable way.
But I do fear for Europe, of which the UK will remain a considerable party, even as an EU outsider, reverting to the disintegration so describing of Europe up until the end of the second world war – or rather; the 1952 formation of the Coal and Steel Community (i.e. today’s EU).
Of course leaving the European Union won’t protect the UK from the unrest that follows and much hardship is to be expected, certainly for the EU, but even more so for those very few outside it (ask any Norwegian).
I think it would be safe to say that the influx in immigration plays a vital part in the British electorate’s desire to leave, which is the strangest thing, of course, as their EU membership is nothing to do with the immigration issue (again, ask any Norwegian).
The huge increase in immigration, seen all over Europe, among EU members and non-members (such as Norway) alike, relates to poverty and unrest in other parts of the world, not in the European Union, coupled with better work conditions, included pay, than that of the former Eastern Europe.
There’s no way that an EU withdrawal is going to absolve the United Kingdom of its obligations under international law, leaving the country firmly positioned at square one.
Asking what they will have won springs to mind. The answer, of course, is nothing. What they, and Europe as a whole, will lose, on the other hand, is an altogether different question, with so many answers that I would hesitate to even begin to list them.
Dear Britons, whom we love for all your admirable traits, I know you won’t hear me, but if you did, I hope you would take the time to consider the impact your decision will have, not only on you, but on us all.
Whatever that decision may be, you will survive, albeit at a cost. One that I fear you’re really not prepared to pay.
I am ashamed, beyond your wildest imagination, to be citizen of a country whose only interest is its own (and whose contributions to NATO is motivated by its potential need for NATO’s aid, and for no other reason), but please do not go down that self-centred path, especially when it will only give you grief, and may well cost you Scotland (and, I suspect; Ulster), calling for independence once more, should you choose to ignore it.
You may well find that a Brexit won’t only break Europe, but Britain, too, as we’ve come to love and respect it.
At the risk of coming across as a tad too schmaltzy; whatever you do, please …
It’ll break more hearts than you can imagine.
At any rate your No will stand as a confirmation that in this time and age it is every man for him self – and that every man indeed is an island.
Some of us would hate that to be the case.
Top illustration: A Brexit Breaks it. Blogger’s own drawing.
P.S. The number of self-made EU illustrations (I have many more!) should serve as an indication of my dedication to the European Union, that I’m left to love – from afar.)
Amid Britain’s ongoing torment leading up to the 23 June referendum, once and for all determining the United Kingdom’s future part in Europe, as member or an isolated island, in every sense of the term, one cannot help but wonder what the future may hold, for the UK, as well as for Europe in general.
Speaking as a citizen of a non-member (i.e. Norway), I feel that warnings are in order, in case the Brits should be under the impression that an outsider status renders Britain unaffected by Brussels’ decision-making. During the 22 years that have passed since Norway turned EU down in its 1994 referendum we have seen an accelerating increase in EU-passed bills directly affecting our own law-making. In fact, a third of our own laws are severely influenced by the union’s, leaving the question of Norwegian sovereignty fairly open.
Of course that is so mainly because of our EU affiliation, through our part in the EEA (European Economic Area) and our Schengen area membership, both of which conceivable alternatives to a full-blown EU membership, even for the UK.
Then of course, there’s the cultural aspect. The British isles and Scandinavia (Norway in particular) share a distant connection with continental Europe, either because of cultural differences or historic events.
Again, speaking as a Norwegian, I find it hard to deny the blatant differences between Viking age Norway:
And continental cities of its time:
Of course, up until the 11th century our quarrels with Christian Rome and its Kvitekrist (White Christ) were mostly all about religion, as it kept insisting on ridding us with our pagan ways. Interestingly today’s Christian EU sceptics consider Europe a metaphor for that very same Rome, if that makes any sense at all. Probably because nationalism trumps religion – in all matters.
Granted the Brits’ rationale may be a different one, but I’m afraid that in both cases a fear of the unknown, which is to say immigration, plays a vital part.
That speaks in favour of neither, and could well bear witness of the initial steps toward Europe’s disintegration, opening up for the Europe of wars, as we knew it before the union’s formation.
Less than a month prior to the UK referendum, civilised people across the continent pray that Britain abstains from Norway’s egotism (I’ll get back to that within short).
Then again, as a representative of the latter, I should know better than to speak.
But I have to say this: Although a strong country in its own right, Britain is stronger, safer and better off in Europe, mkay? After all, according to English (!) poet John Donne (1572 – 1631):
No man is an island.
Which very much holds true for countries, too – a fact both Brits and Norwegians alike are well advised to remember.
I happen to live in a wealthy country, one of our wealthiest, but it wasn’t always so. In fact our wealth was thrown upon us, following the exploitation of the North Sea oil resources, some forty years ago.
In the wake of World War 2 our country was in desperate need of funds, provided, among others, by the U.S. Marshall plan, enabling the rebuilding of our country’s economy.
One would expect, now that fellow European countries Ireland, Greece and Italy’s (and then some) economies have hit rock bottom, that we’d exercise the kind of solidarity we expect of them, by joining the European Union, sharing our unspeakable abundance. But no. Actually, the latest polls show that no more than 26 percent of Noway’s population are in favour of an EU membership.
If we were the ones in need, on the other hand…
So much for our solidarity.
My apologies go to Ireland, Greece, Italy – and other European economies at risk. It is no consolation, I suppose, that it all makes me feel less and less Norwegian – and, if it was up to me, that we’d join the European Union in a heartbeat, pitching in where we could.
64 percent (the rest, 26 percent in favour, ten percent undecided) says we won’t. An appalling way of saying «Up yours, Europe», but there you have it.
P.S. This is a Norwegian-spoken blog, but apologising to foreigners in my own tongue seemed a little… Well, you know.
P.P.S. Insofar that we indeed are concerned, it is with regards to how the crisis may affect us.
P.P.P.S. Former Minister of foreign affairs Mr Thorvald Stoltenberg once proclaimed that tearing down the Berlin wall and the iron curtain would prove easier than securing a Norwegian EU membership. I’m not sure if he realised, at the time, how right he was. Until the oil reserves run dry, that is. Let’s talk again then.