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.