Twenty Years After the Belfast Agreement

A Historical Review on the Troubles and Brexit Implication to Northern-Ireland’s Future

By André Moreno

“I’ve seen cruelty and injustice at first hand; so, then one fateful morning I shook bold freedom’s hand; for right or wrong I’d try to free my land”

This excerpt, taken from The Wolfe Tones’ song Joe McDonnell, refers to a terrible period of British history. The Troubles were a conflict of great violence in Northern Ireland, in which an ethno-nationalist catholic minority fought against the British Army for civil rights and unification with the Republic of Ireland. However, the Irish nationalist feeling refers to the island’s cultural renaissance, in the beginning of the twentieth century. Conflicts between Catholics and the Protestant population of Ulster date back to 1916, peace has prevailed for several decades in Northern Ireland, established after Ireland’s independence recognition in 1922. However, 1960s economic decline and marginalisation of the Catholic minority revived old tensions. Furthermore, civil rights agitation from 1968 brought a violent response from the state and loyalists, culminating in severe rioting in August 1969. 

This spiral into violence caused the rise of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), and the deployment of British troops to the region. On 30 January 1972, 14 civil rights protestors were killed by the British Army in Derry on a day that became known as ‘Bloody Sunday.’ It was not until 1994 that paramilitary ceasefires in Northern Ireland, and the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement of 1998, put an end in a violence wave which caused 3,500 deaths, of which 52% were civilians.

In 2016, after the UK voted to leave the European Union, new concerns arose as a non-deal Brexit would result in  a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state. This meant limited and physically controlled crossing points. In order to avoid this outcome, in 2018, the then British Prime Minister Theresa May, proposed the Northern Ireland Protocol, also known as the Irish backsto). The protocol would keep the United Kingdom in the European Union Customs Union and Northern Ireland partially linked to the European Single Market, until a better solution was found. The Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) opposed this provision, as it believes that it undermines the integrity of the Union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Not surprisingly, the backstop was rejected three times by the Parliament and the inability of Mrs. May to conduct Brexit led to her resignation. 

This week, the European Union approved a new draft proposed by the British PM, Boris. Johnson. The main difference with previous proposals is that instead of having customs checks at the land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, there would be checks in the UK itself, at ports along the Irish Sea and airports. In other words, products shipped to Northern Ireland, which are suspected to be furthered to Ireland would be taxed (VAT figures as the main consumption tax). In the case they are not effectively furthered, merchants would be indemnified. The next step to formalise this deal is the approval of the British Parliament. Nevertheless, DUP leader Arlene Foster and deputy Nigel Dodds put out a joint statement laying out their concerns with the deal terms, “As things stand, we could not support what is being suggested on customs and consent issues and there is a lack of clarity on VAT.” Moreover, DUP said: “These proposals are not, in our view, beneficial to the economic well-being of Northern Ireland and they undermine the integrity of the Union.”

What happens if the Parliament rejects the deal? According to the Ben Act, Mr. Johnson, who currently holds the minority in the Parliament, would have to request a three-month Brexit delay, unless he can get MPs to approve a no-deal exit by 19th October. While the EU Council President, Donald Tusk, does not rule out an extension, EU Commission President, Mr. Juncker, is more resistant. The British PM repeatedly stated that the UK must and will leave the European Union by the 31st of October, and appealed, “Now is the moment for us to get Brexit done and then together work on building our future partnership, which I think can be incredibly positive both for the UK and for the EU.” 

Twenty years after the entry into force of the Good Friday Agreement, another deal could define the future of Belfast and its relations with London. Now, it is up to the British Parliament and EU leaders not only to issue a careful decision, but to promote a peaceful and smooth transition to the more than 1.8 million Northern-Irish people who do not want a hard border on their island.

Photo by Frederick Tubiermont on Unsplash

Resources

1966 and all that: the 50th anniversary commemorations. (2013, April 17). Retrieved from https://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/1966-and-all-that-the-50th-anniversary-commemorations/.

Brexit deal: What does it mean? (2019, October 17). Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-50084090.

Brexit: EU and UK reach deal but DUP refuses support. (2019, October 17). Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-50079385.

Campbell, J. (2019, January 23). No-deal Brexit ‘means hard border’ – European Commission. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-46961982.

Daly, P. (2019, October 17). Brexit: DUP’s concerns with Boris Johnson’s deal – customs, consent and VAT. Retrieved from https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/brexit-dups-concerns-with-boris-johnsons-deal-customs-consent-and-vat-38604045.html.

History of The Northern Ireland Conflict. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.history.co.uk/history-of-the-northern-ireland-conflict.

Weaver, M. (2019, October 17). DUP says it cannot support Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/17/dup-boris-johnson-brexit-deal.

EUSA and ESN presents: Eurovision screening

It’s that time of the year again, when the rest of the world is wondering what on earth is going on up there in Europe – we are of course talking about Eurovision Song Contest. This time around EUSA has come together with the Erasmus Student Network and the Residence Life Program to provide you all with a proper screening live from Tel Aviv. There will be snacks, drinks and lots of good company, so we hope to see you there!

The screening will take place at De Klok common room at Enthovenplein, from 20.30 onwards.

“We do not need to fight for a European identity”

By Antonia Schräder

“Bringing Europe back to the People” this is what the Europeans People Party is campaigning for. This is a big promise considering the growing EU scepticism and the ever widening gap between Brussels and the Europeans. The young Europeans play an important part, they are the future. But how will the EU manage to reach out them, to make them go vote, to make them feel that there vote matters? In an interview with Dirk Gotink, Spokesperson of Manfred Weber, I tried to understand the roots of the missing European identity, which is crucial not only for the upcoming elections, but for the future of Europe.

Manfred Weber is familiar with elections on both levels, on the national and the EU level. In what way is this different for a politician ?

Interesting to see is that actually the method is the same. You want to reach your candidate and you have your ideas and your programmes how you can directly reach people. There is not a Spanish way of doing that or a German way of doing that. I mean it is basically the same. Also the concerns of people are very similar.

A major point in both, the Maastricht treaty and the treaty Amsterdam is the endeavour to create a common European identity. But we still see a cleavage between national identity and a European identity. I was wondering how to overcome this cleavage and to follow what actually binds us together as European citizen?

Well the starting point is not the European identity. The starting point is first of all to consider that people have several layers of identity, loyalty and being part of community. The first one is of course local and regional, then you have the national one and there is a European one. What the extremist try to do is that they try to oppose this to each other. This perspective is a mistake, because they belong to each other and in many places it is totally normal. Take for example someone from Castilla la Mancha in Spain, they are proud to come from the region la Mancha, they are proud to be Spanish and are a proud European. Basically we do not need to fight for a European identity, but rather we have to take into account that those different layers of identity belong together. We shouldn’t allow extremist make contractions between them. Between regional and national and European one. That is nonsense.

Even though we have these different layers of identity, which may not contradict each other, we still see that there is a lack of identity at the European level and that the national identity is still much stronger. In his campaign Manfred weber is mentioning that he will give europe back to the people. How will Mr.Weber, as the future president of the commission redeem this promise to the European citizens?

Two things are here necessary. First, in the decision making process: taking another step in the decision making process, so that the level of prioritisation, is one step closer to the people and one step further away from the the technocrats. This is not easy, because the machine is obviously very big, but the most important message for the elections is, that we have to show the people, that how they vote and what they vote has an direct impact on what happens afterwards. Basically this is the simple process of democracy. Second, in the visibility: topics such as migration, economy and climate are most import ant to europeans. These three topics you will find everywhere in Europe. People are worried about Europe not controlling the external borders. Obviously it changes from one country to another, but almost in every country it is on the top concerns. Further people are concerned about a stable economy. Priorities in our program are to give young people a perspective to a job, and give young families access to housing.We need to make sure that not an entire generation will gonna grow up indebted and that the houses the bought once, will never be sold for the same price again. We saw this in Ireland. And then the climate. Which is basically this big categorical imperative. So bringing that decision making or the topics much closer to the concerns of the people.

How is it possible to achieve this? Currently European citizens see an ineffective commission and a slow decision making process in Brussels?

I don’t agree. I think the commission has done a lot in the last 5 years. The problem is that the last 5 years were really crisis management years. Just like the 5 years before. So we’ve been already in ten years of crisis management. Which means you can not really set up a positive programme, you always have to react to the realities and the political problems of the day. Essentially, what we need to do now is have a new start.We need to present a positive agenda again. That can also lead to quick decision making. Take for example the FRONTEX decision of stocking up extra border personnel to 10.000. The council agreed to the proposal to have this full capacity by 2027. This is 12 years after the start of the migration crisis. That is not good enough, so yes: we have to deliver quicker and of course this brings some big challenges like you also have on national or local level. We analyse the problem together and then we propose a solution. Between the two steps there is some kind of a link. Important is that people have to see this link, people have to see that their concerns bout the migration crisis in 2015 and 2016 and their experiences in that period have a direct effect on the decision making of the commission in the same mandate. And exclude that we already have managed a lot, but at the moment the migration files are stuck and that will be the top priority for the next commission, which is up to Mr. Weber to solve that.

Coming back to the quote from the campaign: giving Europe back to the people. As a student who has the chance to study in another european country and who benefits from various university programmes funded by the EU, it is easier to see what impact the EU has on my personal life. The ‘Standard Eurobarometer 89 Spring 2018’ on European citizenship show that a higher level of education represents an increased level in European identity, trust in the EU and higher voting rates. The EPP campaigns for reaching out to all people. In the past we have not seen this to a great extent. How will Mr. Reach out to those young people who are not going to university? What will the Commission do for the lower middle class?

First of all we need to make EU funds and exchange programmes also accessible to lower levels of education and we have done that with Erasmus. Those funds have been increased. Further Mr. Weber has introduced an INTERAIL ticket, to give 18 year olds the chance to discover the countries around them. Also those kind of programmes need to be accessible, not only to university students, because we know that university students, they normally will take care of themselves. But surely its important. So we need to open up those funds to lower levels of education, for example when you consider the technical professions. This is what we mean by giving Europe back to the people and this is indeed not just an elite project in Brussels of high educated, super flexible cosmopolitans, speaking 6 languages. It is really something that people get picture of Europe as taking their concerns into account and moreover that Europe is actually protecting them in a globalised world. This would be my best answer to the populist and all the extremist who are attacking Europe. That we deliver, that the EU is the only mechanism we have. To built on the success we already achieved in the last 60 years.

Unfortunately, we have not seen Manfred Weber at the Maastricht debate, which was an important debate for many europeans, especially young europeans. Will we see Manfred weber in another high profile debate before elections ?

He would have loved to be there, but in this case it was just not possible. Yes of course. There will be a very big debate on the 15th of may in the European Parliament. We will be there. And there will be a debate on German television between Timmermans and Weber on the 16th of may. ARD and ZDF respectively. He would have loved to be there, but in this case it was just not possible.

Women in EU politics: What the Elections may Bring for Gender Parity in the EU

By Emma Myhre

2019 sets the one hundred year mark since several EU countries gave women the right to vote in national elections. Yet, women are underrepresented in political decision-making at local, national and European levels (1). Achieving gender parity in representative politics is arguably needed not only to uphold social justice and women’s rights, but as an important condition of effective democracy and good governance that strengthens and enhances the democratic system. This article will take a look at women in EU politics in light of the European elections, and discuss what the upcoming elections may mean for women’s issues in EU decision-making.

Since the first directly elected legislature in 1979, the percentage of women has risen after each election up to 35.8% after the 2014 election. This is above the world average for national parliaments and above the EU average for national parliaments (2). No EU-wide data exists on political representation of different groups of women, such as women from ethnic minorities, LGBTQ women, older or younger women, or women with disabilities, but the data available suggest that these groups are underrepresented (3). In other words, women are relatively well represented in the EU compared to the rest of the world, but there is still be a way to go. Additionally, the progress already made demands subtle interpretation, as it is sometimes hard to see tangibly what the EU does for women.

That being said, gender equality and the fight against discrimination is a core part of the EU’s treaties. Furthermore, the European Parliament continues to show commitment to the cause – for example, it has recently approved several resolutions regarding gender equality. These include the prevention of and fight to counter harassment in the workplace, in the public domain and in the EU political sphere (as of 11th September 2018), and on male-female parity, calling for measures to guarantee gender equality and improvement in the institutions (as of 15th of January 2019). (4)

The institutional renewal which will follow the European elections on 23rd-26th May, the formation of the new Commission and the appointment of new presidents at the European Council and the European Central Bank represent an opportunity and a risk. While it is true that recent political decisions have resulted in modest advancements in regards to gender equality, it is no less possible that these developments can be reversed (5). Worth pointing out is that the political climate in the bloc is increasingly polarized. Euroscepticism and populism will likely hold a significant role. Furthermore, the cleavage between member states and Brussels when it comes to the future of the European project continues to put pressure on the union as a whole (6). The upcoming elections will hence put the courage of European leaders to the test. A more diverse parliament would possibly disrupt the status quo. Yet it is an opportunity to enable Europe to remain, as well as advance, its position as a globally unchallenged promoter of gender equality. The EU’s advocacy for human rights will not stand as strong if women’s rights are not guaranteed.

A United Right? Prospects for a New Grouping in the European Parliament After 5 Tumultuous Years

By Norbert Rebow

With the elections to the European Parliament set to take place next week much about the future of the European Union in the coming years is shrouded in mystery. One thing that seems relatively clear, however, is that the trend of an increase in the representation of parties to the right of the European People’s Party (EPP) in the Parliament is set to continue in these elections. The past five years have seen the emergence, strengthening and consolidation of support for right wing parties opposed to the EU establishment and the current direction of the European project. Whether these groups and their views will hold sway in the formation of the new Commission and the term of the new Parliament will depend much on the extent to which they are able to coordinate their actions. As the deputy prime minister of Italy and leader of La Lega, Matteo Salvini, tours Europe in search of allies, let us take a look at the likelihood of his goal of unity on the European right.

Before we start to make predictions about the new parliament, we should take a look at the current state of play. Three blocs sat to the right of the EPP in the outgoing European Parliament – the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) with 76 seats, Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy with 41 seats (EFDD) and Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) with 37 seats[1]. The ECR was the third largest group in the parliament and taken together the total of 154 seats reached by the three groups together was still less than the second largest Socialists and Democrats grouping on 186 seats.

Why has there been this level of fracturing on the right? One thing that needs to be pointed out is that the ECR has been a distinct force, often calling themselves Eurorealists and being termed as soft Eurosceptics. For most of its existence, all the national parties that formed part of the group were committed to keeping their countries in the EU while often being critical of the direction the Union is taking and, in some cases, calling for powers to be returned to Member States. While this still remains the stated stance of the group as a whole, the largest party in it, the British Conservative Party began to support its country’s departure from the EU in 2016. While the group has been sceptical of transferring more power to Brussels it has also traditionally been a champion of the development of the single market, supporting initiatives and legislation that brings down barriers for businesses operate across the Union.

Meanwhile the EFDD and the ENF for most of this parliamentary term consisted of hard Eurosceptics with many of their constituent parties calling for referenda on the departure of their countries from the EU. With this key factor in common we may wonder why they never formed a united bloc. The EFDD formed around UKIP while the ENF was originally organised by the French Front National. Citing differences on economic policy and concerns about “prejudice and anti-Semitism” UKIP refrained from entering an alliance with Le Pen’s party in 2014[2]. With any participation of the Brexit Party and UKIP in the new parliament set to be temporary, the partnership options for other hard Eurosceptic parties are now unlikely to make a choice to go with their British counterparts.

It is not only Brexit that makes today’s situation different. Some of the parties of the ECR, most notably Poland’s Law and Justice, have found themselves at odds with the European Commission and others over issues including migration. Meanwhile, some previously hard Eurosceptic parties have changed their tune. After her defeat to Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen dropped her party’s demand for a Frexit referendum, instead seeking to shape fundamental changes to the EU[3]. Similarly, in Italy Matteo Salvini has dropped his party’s proposals to take Italy out of the Euro while continuing to criticise the European institutions, especially over the migration crisis and its impact on Italy[4].

Could this seeming convergence in political orientation lead to a stable alliance of the right? It is not immediately obvious that it will. Matteo Salvini has certainly made great efforts to build a pan-European coalition, visiting leaders across the EU, most notably in Warsaw and Budapest and launching a new grouping last month. This new project has gathered the Lega with right-wing parties from Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland and Germany along with the National Rally in France[5]. The absence of Law and Justice and Fidesz, however, is glaring in the context of building a bloc whose weight will be felt in the new parliament.

One problem facing efforts like Salvini’s is the question of Russia. Along with Marine Le Pen, he has argued against EU sanctions on Russia, seeking a better relationship with Moscow for Italy and the EU[6]. This runs completely against the committed position of Law and Justice to a hard and united European position against aggression from Vladimir Putin’s government. Given Poland’s geopolitical position, Law and Justice is sceptical of movements toward a change of course which could make it difficult to make common cause with parties that downplay the threat from the Kremlin.

Another issue is the perspective with which the potential member parties approach the EU and the categories of success for a joint movement. Both La Lega and Law and Justice have come to describe their agendas in European terms – the goal of their proposed reforms of the Union are presented as improving the relationship of EU citizens with the institutions and ultimately ensuring the sustainability of the European project. Meanwhile, listening to a recent Euronews interview with Marine Le Pen in which she repeatedly bemoans the fact that the French state pays more into the EU budget than it gets out of it, it is difficult to escape the impression that behind the statement that she would now fight to reform the Union there is little willingness to make the compromises that would make such a movement for change work[7].

There is little doubt that the realities of European politics have changed massively over the past five years. Parties of the anti-establishment right will be stronger in the coming parliament than the last and that they are being pushed closer together as they seek a way forward without Britain in the EU and with support for Union membership rising among voters across Europe. These processes are still in flux, however, and continued disagreements may very well preclude a joint bloc forming when the new MEPs take their seats in July. These developments will not suddenly stop though and Matteo Salvini’s efforts may come to fruition in years to come.


Sources used in this article:

1] Pollofpolls.eu

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/apr/18/nigel-farage-rejects-ukip-tie-french-front-national

[3] https://www.trtworld.com/europe/le-pen-drops-frexit-in-favour-of-an-eu-of-the-far-right-25868

[4] https://www.ft.com/content/1920a116-fd3b-11e8-ac00-57a2a826423e

[5] https://www.dw.com/en/frances-far-right-national-rally-joins-salvinis-european-alliance/a-48411442

[6] https://www.france24.com/en/20190505-le-pen-hungary-poland-far-right-european-parliament-alliance-salvini-populists[7] https://www.euronews.com/video/2019/04/04/le-pen-dreams-of-nationalist-supergroup-exclusive-interview

Meet the board!

EUSA is delighted to have opened up the call for board positions for the term 2019-2020, and in that regards we are hosting a borrel where you can come interact with the current board and ask all of your questions! All current board members will be present to tell you all about their tasks and experiences over the past year, so don’t hesitate to come along if you have anything at all you’re wondering about regarding being on the board of EUSA.

The borrel will take place at Cafe Leopold in The Hague, directly following our event with MEP Kati Piri, and is set to start at 17.30. So you can either join us as we make our way from Wijnhaven to Cafe Leopold, or just meet us directly at the bar!

Of course, even if you’re not interested in any board positions, you are more than welcome to just join us for a nice afternoon chat over a drink. We’d love to see you there regardless!

We would also like to remind you that you have until the 15th of May to apply for the position of president, secretary, treasurer, ambassador and assessor. Show your interest by sending your CV and motivation letter to eusaleiden@gmail.com and we will get back to you!

EUSA presents: An afternoon with Kati Piri

On the day of Europe, the 9th of May, Dutch MEP Kati Piri will join EUSA and talk about her work at the European Parliament and the upcoming elections!

Kati Piri is a Dutch Member of the European Parliament. She is a member of the Labour Party (PvdA), part of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D). She is a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and member of the Delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee and Delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly. In addition to her committee assignments, she is a member of the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT Rights.

We welcome you all to this interesting lecture. It will take place on the 9th of May and it will start at 15.00 in room 3.48 at Wijnhaven, The Hague

After the event, we will continue the evening at Café Leopold, 17.30 for our Board-borrel. Are you interested in becoming a EUSA board-member next year and do you want to know more about the different positions? Join us and feel free to ask us your questions!

See you all there!

EUSA is looking for you!

Today we have the great pleasure of opening up the call for board positions for the EUSA board 2019-2020. We are looking for 5 individuals to fill the positions of president, secretary, treasurer, ambassador and assessor, and you could be one of them!

Being on the board of EUSA is a great chance to enrich your student experience. You’ll have a chance to help shape the organisation and properly immersing yourself in the European discussion, whilst simultaneously picking up invaluable skills and knowledge. 

Do you have any questions regarding any of the positions, or being on the EUSA board in general? We are always available through email or facebook, and will furthermore host a borrel the 9th of May where you will have the chance to interact with the current board members and ask all the questions you might have. 

We are looking for those with an open mind and an interest in the European discussion, so do not hesitate to apply! You have until the 15th of May to send your CV and motivation letter to eusaleiden@gmail.com

EUSA, CIROS and SPIL presents: European Election Night

Still undecided who to vote for in the upcoming elections for the European Parliament?

If so, CIROS, SPIL and the EUSA have great news for you. On the 30th of April, the three associations are co-hosting a European Election Night with representatives from different Dutch parties running for this year’s elections.

Part I:
From 7 PM to 9 PM representatives of Dutch parties will participate in a panel debate, moderated by Dr. Karolina Pomorska. The content of the debate will be derived from the student’s input.

Part II:
After the event, everyone is invited to join us at De Paraplu (Bagijnestraat 9) for a Pub Quiz about the European Union! In teams of five you get the unique opportunity to show off your knowledge about the EU and hopefully win a crate with beers from all over Europe!

When: 30th of April, 19.00

Where: 2.01, Wijnhaven, The Hague

Alternatives to EU membership: The Norway model in light of Brexit

By Emma Myhre

Out of all non-EU countries, Norway is the one that is the most involved with the EU. Norway’s membership in the EEA means that it has full access to the single market, and very limited barriers to trade with the EU. Furthermore, people from across the EU are free to live and work in Norway, and vice versa. Norway is exempt from EU rules on justice and home affairs, and also on policies on agriculture and fisheries, as it is not part of the Common Agricultural Policy or the Common Fisheries Policy. Most other policies, however, are adapted. These include the four freedoms – free movement of goods, services, capital and people [1]. The idea of a “Norway model” for the UK has been brought up as a possible plan B for Brexit because of the harsh resistance in the UK parliament to the draft agreement signed off by the EU and UK [2]. The model is relevant because it is as close as a country can get to the EU without membership. Hence, some would consider it a valid option to keep trading relations as tight as they currently are.

However, the Norway model is not perfect. Perhaps the biggest problem with Norway-EU relations is that Norway has no formal say in EU policy-making, because it has no representation in any of the main European institutions [3]. This point has been a cause of discontent among Norwegians towards the current deal. Although the EEA is the most important way for Norway to access the EU single market, Norway finds itself in a suboptimal situation in which it has no vote in the electoral processes that determine EU policies that Norway ultimately has to adopt.

Many Norwegians recognize that the current model is not ideal, but the political parties are at stark disagreement on how to improve it. While some parties wish for Norway to join the EU as a full member, others think it is a better idea not just to reject EU membership but to withdraw from the EEA entirely and form a new set of agreements with the EU. Those that want to join the EU argue that Norway should have a say in EU decision-making and secure Norwegian economic interests by being a member of the union. Another important point the advocates for membership bring up, is the fact that the world needs more cooperation to tackle global challenges that exceed country borders [4]. However, those opposing membership point to democratic problems within the EU and the importance of having politics at a close distance, as well as a clash of values when it comes to international and domestic solidarity and questions of climate [5].  

For the UK to adopt something like the “Norway model” would be difficult. Adopting the four freedoms – free movement of goods, services, capital and people, would be a tough sacrifice. The British government’s desire to retain control over its own borders and a say in who it lets into the country is an important factor in its relations with the EU [6]. Moreover, being only on the receiving end of policy-making, and following EU rules without voting on them, will raise skepticism among many Brexiteers because it takes significant control from London over its own economic policies. Another important point is the issue with Ireland. To avoid a hard border, the UK would need to have a customs agreement with the EU, pointing towards a so-called “Norway-plus” option. Such a model could further limit the UK’s ability to settle its own trade deals [7].

There are also aspects of the model that are attractive to Brexiteers. Apart from it being a way for the UK to keep its close ties to the EU and the single market, it would give London the ability to set its own policies on important sectors, the way Norway does on its large fishing and agricultural industries [8]. Additionally, it would allow the UK to negotiate its own trade deals with other countries [9].

The very fact that the Norway model has been discussed by politicians and scholars to such an extent proves that it holds significant relevance. However, there is much more to the solution than just picking some kind of a premade package with a guarantee of success. The UK adopting the Norway model would come with significant costs, something the parliament has also recognized. It is also undeniable that the UK and Norway are different countries with different (although overlapping) interests in the international system. Hence, it is not perfectly realistic for the UK to follow suit of Norway. A more pertinent approach would be to look at Norway as an example of an alternative, although perhaps suboptimal solution to EU membership, and make whatever adjustments necessary to produce the best case scenario in the UK context.