Norway will most likely preserve its healthy economy and high living standards over the next decades, although the EU membership controversy will, no doubt, continue to be a major issue in domestic politics.
Privatization will enter the oil industry as Statoil is expected to be partly privatized in 2001. The Labor government will further sell a part of the State Direct Financial Interest in offshore oil production and will continue to invite major foreign investors to the industry. Gradual liberalization of offshore oil licensing policy will attract smaller foreign companies to the sector. Foreign trade—except in agriculture, fishing, and energy—will gradually become more and more regulated by the EU through the EEA.
Norway is seriously planning for the time when oil and gas will become depleted and is not very likely to experience significant economic disruption and social hardship once this happens. Yet a serious restructuring of the economy is expected to occur, and social welfare spending may be put to some considerable strain. The perspective of losing the oil wealth may also convince the majority of Norwegians to opt for EU membership in the long run.