Norway’s prime minister has said her country would be open to Britain joining the European Economic Area – potentially giving Britain a readymade technical solution for remaining in the single market after Brexit.
Norway’s government had previously hinted it might block British membership of the EEA because such a change would likely shift the balance of power within the trade association against Norwegian interests.
But in an interview with the Financial Times newspaper Erna Solberg suggested EEA membership was now an option for Brexit Britain.
“I think we will cope very well if the Brits come in. It will give bargaining power on our side too. And it would ease Norway’s access to the UK,” she told the newspaper.
Shortly after the EU referendum in August 2016 Elisabeth Vik Aspaker, the country’s European Affairs Minister at the time, said it was “not certain that it would be a good idea to let a big country into this organisation” because such a move could “shift the balance” against “Norway’s interests”.
The EEA technically includes all EU member states, but the term is usually used to refer to those countries outside the EU who still adhere to the rules of the single market.
Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are the countries outside the EU that participate in the EEA through their membership of the European Free Trade Association.