Northern exposure : Sweden, Finland and Norway join the European Union
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The study examines the decision of three Nordic countries - Sweden, Finland and Norway - to apply for full membership in the European Union (EU). The membership negotiations were concluded in March 1994 and the European Parliament voted in favor of accession in May 1994. Depending on the outcome of national referendums, the three Nordic countries are expected to enter the EU on 1 January 1995, together with Austria. Although the Nordic countries were already deeply integrated with the EU in terms of trade and economy through EC-EFT A free trade agreements and the European Economic Area agreement, they had refrained from extending economic integration into political integration. In the case of Finland and Sweden, this "encapsulation" of integration was connected to their policies of neutrality and non-alignment in the Cold War climate. The study analyses the decision to apply for membership in the light ofregional integration theories. Traditional neo-functionalism working through a gradual spill-over mechanism can not explain the sudden shift in favor of membership. Instead, the applications are studied in the framework of intergovernmental institutionalism with emphasis on deliberate governmental decision-making. The initiative to apply was mostly an economic and business consideration. However, the decisive factor which enabled Finland and Sweden to reassess the compatibility of the EU membership with their policies of neutrality was the change in the international geopolitical climate since 1989 which removed the image of the EU as a western block.