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Europeans: Norwegian diplomats and the enlargement of the European Community, 1960-1972

Europeans: Norwegian diplomats and the enlargement of the European Community, 1960-1972
Haakon A. Ikonomou


Department of History and Civilization, European University Institute, I-50014 San Domenico di Fiesole (FI), ITALY.


September 25, 1972, marked the end of the most bitterly fought political struggle of Norwegian postwar history. With a slight majority, those opposed to membership in the European Community (EC) prevailed in a popular referendum. With the Norwegian 'no', the date also marked the first non-enlargement of the EC. This thesis investigates how a group of diplomats – who worked throughout the 1960s and early 1970s to negotiate a Norwegian EC membership – became Europeans. Being a European meant developing an emotional and professional conviction that membership in the EC was a good thing in itself. But it also entailed a certain displacement: who the Europeans were and how they worked with the EC-case was determined by their in-betweenness. The study of who the Europeans were, and how they worked with the EC-case, is structured around a three-level analysis: 1)The anthropo-institutional investigation 2)The discursive framework, and 3)The study of the Europeans' diplomatic practice regarding the EC-case. The Europeans profoundly shaped Norwegian European policy between 1960 and 1972, helping to redirect the Norwegian postwar foreign policy in quite a fundamental way, and also changed the Community itself. The Europeans were forged into a community and received their political potency/weakness from their in-betweenness: both professionally and personally invested in the membership issue, their actions lay between traditional diplomacy and politics, their ideas, practices and spaces were constituted between 'Europe' and 'Norway' in multiple ways, and their ultimate task remained to bridge the division between the two entities. In brevity, the thesis tells the story of a handful of Norwegian diplomats that became passionately pro-European in the 1960s, and who worked to get Norway on the inside of the EC – a failed elite, shaped in the middle, which nonetheless made a lasting, yet untold, mark on Norway, Europe and the diplomatic trade.