Being in the European Union is supposed to be a desirable thing for European countries and the idea is that the many are greater than the few – that by ‘teaming up’ the EU can take on the other global super powers and look after its own. Being in the EU affords a country trade benefits, increases tourism and ensures that member countries have the support of their neighbours should they ever need a bail out or other financial aid – so what’s not to like?
Well actually a fair bit if many countries are to be believe. There are more than a couple of countries you see that don’t want to be in the EU, despite being in Europe and having that option should they want it. So what’s going on? Here we will look at which countries are shunning the EU and just what it is that they don’t like…
Norway isn’t in the EU though it works very closely with the union and is a member of the ‘European Economic Area’ and ‘European Free Trade Association’. So why isn’t Norway more interested in membership? Well certain political parties in Norway seem to think that the EU is undemocratic – such as the Socialist Left Party which describes there as being a ‘lack of democracy’ and ‘too much focus on Liberal trade’ and the Christian Democratic Party which believes Norway could lose some of its independence were it to join.
A more cynical view though may be simply that the EU is less beneficial to Norway because Norway is in a relatively strong financial position. As the wealthier member states of the EU are often tasked with bailing out the poorer ones, it may be that Norway has more to lose and less to gain than some other countries.
While the UK does belong to the EU, there is widespread controversy surrounding this issue. The problem here is that the EU involves itself in so much of the UK’s law-making. High profile cases in the news have drawn attention to this fact with Aston Martin being ‘forced’ to release a Mini (in order to keep down their ‘average’ engine size), motorcyclists forced to pay more for modifications and the government being forced to keep known terrorists in the country because the EU deems deportation to be a breach of their human rights.
This kind of decision making from ‘on high’ has led many Brits to resent the EU and thus David Cameron (the current Prime Minister) has promised to hold a referendum on the matter should Conservatives win the next election.
Turkey has been an ‘associate member’ of the EU for a long time and has a history of attempting to join the Union. In 2007 President Nicolas Sarkozy of France blocked the Chapter on Statistics and Financial Control and in 2009 a further 6 chapters were blocked by the Republic of Cyprus arguing that Turkey needed to formalise relations with them.
While the Turkish prime minister R.T. Erdogan has made it clear that he intends to continue pursuing membership, enthusiasm for the idea has since cooled within Turkey. This may be in part a reaction to the blocks (a ‘you don’t want us so we don’t need you’ mentality) but there are also real complaints that membership could hurt tourism which generates a lot of income for Turkey.
Many tourists from Europe visit Turkey every year and one of the big draws are the many ‘all inclusive hotels’ that offer cheap meals and entertainment for a single, low price. If Turkey were to join the EU however, the all-but inevitable switch to the Euro might mean this was no longer feasible and in general prices could go up. Of course Turkey has also been made to jump through all kinds of hoops to be considered for membership which has also upset a lot of residents.
Greenland hasn’t just rejected EU membership, but actually chosen to leave – making it the first country to do so. After a disagreement regarding fishing rights, the territory left the EEC but remained subject to EU treaties via the Association of Overseas Countries and Territories.
Since then, the reduction of EU red tape and the destructive Common Fisheries Policy (that allowed other countries to fish in Greenland’s waters) has allowed the country to go from strength to strength. Greenland is actually now better off than before and in fact the islanders enjoy a higher standard of living than those in Britain, France or Germany.
Take from that what you will but this is something that could also benefit the UK which is also reliant on fishing exports. Today more British workers lose their jobs thanks to the Common Fisheries Policy than from mine closures. Something to think about…