Sunday, 4 March 2018
The Norway solution
Leaving the EU but joining EEA or EFTA is very much a second-best response to the 2016 referendum in my opinion. However, it would seem to solve the Irish border conundrum, as well as protecting UK industry and farming, if this article is to be believed:
In the north-western corner of Europe, cross-border mobility and trade is flourishing between Norway and Sweden. More than 25,000 people commute to work over the border, and the countries are among each other's most important trade partners. One is an EU member; the other is not.
The efficiency and smooth running of the border may therefore seem surprising. The explanation lies in a combination of cultural preconditions and legal arrangements between the two countries. The question then arises: could these Norwegian-Swedish border arrangements serve as a model for other parts of Europe, such as post-Brexit Ireland?
Norway and Sweden have large cultural similarities, including each being able to understand the other's language. The countries were even united between 1814 and 1905. Even though this union was dissolved, the countries continued to cooperate and have shared laws. In the 1950s, they entered a passport union together with the other Nordic states Denmark, Finland and Iceland, which allowed ID-free travel between these countries.
Norway and Sweden thus have close ties, characterized by a high degree of trust. This is indicated by the fact that several of the border crossings in the sparsely populated areas along the 1,630km long border are unattended.