Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg made it perfectly clear on the floor of the Norwegian Parliament this week that Norway will not be pulling out of the European open-border agreement known as “Schengen.” His remarks came after one of his government’s coalition partners voted to actively promote withdrawal.
“I have full respect that individual parties can take their own positions,” Stoltenberg said. The position of his three-party government coalition remains firm, however, and Norway will maintain the agreements it has regarding its relations with the EU, including Schengen, and its membership in NATO.
The small Center Party, which is part of the current government coalition along with Stoltenberg’s Labour Party and the Socialist Left party (SV), had voted at its annual meeting over the weekend to promote closing Norway’s borders and getting out of Schengen, which ensures free flow of goods, services and people among many European nations. Labour Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide had also rejected any notion that the Center Party would succeed in closing borders to hinder entrance of European criminals to Norway.
“I’m not losing a minute of sleep over this,” Eide told newspaper Aftenposten. The Center Party’s own leadership had opposed the Schengen withdrawal proposal, but promised to follow through on what the majority decided.