These 3 countries with very small populations are examples often used by Euro-sceptics to make a case for a UK-EU exit. But it is wishful thinking. This is why.
Norway: One of the best Eurosceptic arguments is the common claim that Britain can leave the EU but keep trading with the Single Market, ’just like Norway’ (called The Norway Option). But the ‘Norwegian option’ is a mirage. For starters, Norway has only a population of only 5 million people. It is the world’s fifth largest oil exporter, producing almost 2.5m barrels a day, and is one of the richest countries in the world. Euro-sceptics fail to mention that to trade with the EU, Norway still has to implement the vast majority of EU regulations. These are the rules that make sure the food we buy is safe, that appliances are energy efficient and that goods produced in one EU country can be sold in all the others. So Norway has to abide by EU’s laws, but lacks any influence or voting rights in EU affairs, and cannot determine the content of said laws. In contrast, the UK has a seat at every table, with 73 British MEPs in the European Parliament and a British minister at every meeting of the Council – each with a joint say over all of the EU’s rules. As one of the bigger member states, Britain also has greater weight in shaping decisions from the outset – the Single Market and EU expansion to Eastern Europe were largely UK-inspired projects.
Iceland: Iceland has not flourished. With a small population of around 320,000 people, and outside of the EU, Iceland’s systemic banking collapse of 2008 is the largest experienced by any country in economic history relative to the size of an economy; larger than any country has ever suffered. (Cracks in the “crust”. The Economist). Following the crisis, the former Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, took the step to apply for EU membership in 2010; the application subsequently being withdrawn by the following government. Though Iceland is not in the EU, as a member of the Schengen area it issues European-Union style passport stamps.
Switzerland: For starters, Switzerland is what is called a “permanently neutral power” as established by the Final Act of the Congress of Vienna dated 20 November 1815, where the total neutrality of Switzerland was guaranteed. Today, the European Union is Switzerland’s largest trading partner, so a functioning EU is critical for Swiss success. The relations between Switzerland and the European Union (EU) are framed by a series of bilateral treaties whereby the Swiss Confederation has adopted various provisions of European Union law in order to participate in the Union’s single market in the areas of Free movement of people, Air traffic, Road traffic, Agriculture, Technical trade barriers, Public procurement, Science, Security and asylum and Schengen membership, Cooperation in fraud pursuits, environment, media, education, care of the elderly, statistics and services. In February 2014, the Swiss voters narrowly accepted a referendum limiting the freedom of movement of EU citizens to Switzerland.