By Sveinung Sleire
Kicking off the year in a T-shirt proclaiming that she “loves, loves the EEA,” Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide hinted at the high-stakes fight that’s brewing in Norway over its relationship with the European Union.
Soreide’s show of passion comes 25 years after Norway linked itself to the EU in a free-trade deal as part of the European Economic Area, a compromise solution after voters in a referendum rejected joining the bloc.
But the deal that gives Norway unfettered access to Europe’s massive free-trade bloc is increasingly being derided and has come under legal attack from EU skeptics and labor unions who are questioning its impact on wages, labor laws and sovereignty. As of yet, it’s a faint echo of the Brexit process that’s currently tearing at the fabric of the U.K.
“It’s very important that we — supporters of the EEA agreement — are out there defending it, and tell how enormously important it’s to safeguard Norwegian interests,” Soreide said in an interview in Oslo.
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