About EFTA News
New Swiss and Icelandic ambassadors present credentials to the Secretary-General
Ambassador Remigi Winzap of Switzerland and Ambassador Martin Eyjólfsson of Iceland each met with Secretary-General Kristinn F. Árnason in Geneva on 18 September 2012 to present their credentials as their countries’ representatives to EFTA.
Secretary-General Kristinn F. Árnason takes up his duties
On 1 September 2012, Kristinn F. Árnason of Iceland will take up his duties as Secretary-General of the European Free Trade Association. Mr Árnason has a long experience in EFTA affairs, having been Iceland’s Permanent Representative to EFTA, the WTO and other international organisations in Geneva since 2005 as well as serving earlier as Deputy Permanent Representative to the Geneva organisations from 1987 to 1992. He was Ambassador to Norway from 1999 to 2003 and has held several other posts in the Icelandic Foreign Service, including that of Director of External Trade (1994-1998) and Chief negotiator on fisheries issues (1992-1994).
Iceland takes over chair of the EFTA Council
The EFTA Council met on 11 July 2012 in Geneva. Iceland, holding the rotating Council chair for the second half of the year, presented its priorities. The Council also reviewed the Ministerial meeting in Gstaad, Switzerland and the recent negotiating round with Indonesia.
EFTA is an important platform for the future
After six years at the helm of the Association, EFTA’s Secretary-General, Kåre Bryn, will step down on 31 August. Having been Norway’s Ambassador in Geneva and a Member of the EFTA Council from 1999 to 2003, Mr Bryn has a long experience in EFTA affairs. At their meeting in Gstaad on 28 June, the EFTA Ministers thanked him for his excellent service to the organisation and its members. In the following statement, the Secretary-General looked at EFTA’s recent past, the present and the future.
EFTA Ministerial meeting, Gstaad, Switzerland, 28 June 2012
On 28 June 2012, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) held its summer Ministerial meeting in Gstaad, Switzerland under the Chairmanship of Mr Johann N. Schneider-Ammann, Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs of Switzerland. Ministers of the four EFTA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) signed a joint declaration on cooperation with Georgia, represented by Ms Vera Kobalia, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development.
EFTA and Georgia plan to sign a joint declaration on cooperation in Gstaad on 28 June
On 21 June, the EFTA Council in Geneva prepared for the summer EFTA Ministerial meeting that will take place in Gstaad on 28 June. The Ministers plan to sign a joint declaration on cooperation with Georgia. The Council decided to liberalise intra-EFTA trade in agricultural products and reviewed ongoing free trade negotiations, including a recent round with Central American countries.
EFTA Council discusses expanding free trade network
The EFTA Council met on 16 May for their third meeting in 2012 under the chairmanship of Switzerland. The Council discussed free trade relations with several countries outside the European Union including the ongoing negotiations with the Custom Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan and recent meetings under EFTA’s free trade agreements (FTAs) with Canada and Egypt. The Council also prepared the EFTA Summer Ministerial meeting in Switzerland.
EFTA's Annual Report for 2011 available
In 2011, a total of 373 new legal acts were incorporated into the EEA Agreement. Important additions include the Renewable Energy Directive, the new Social Security Regulation and the inclusion of aviation activities in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Also in 2011, Hong Kong China and Montenegro joined EFTA's expanding network of free trade partners. The EFTA States now have preferential free trade relations with 60 countries in Europe and the rest of the world, as well as with each other, meaning that 80% of EFTA’s merchandise trade is covered by preferential trading arrangements.
The EFTA Council: Working with the EU to train statisticians
The EFTA Council met for the second time this year on 22 March in Geneva under the Chairmanship of Switzerland. The Council adopted the EFTA-Eurostat Technical Cooperation Programme for 2012, approved amendments to the Vaduz Convention and reviewed free trade relations with a number of countries outside the EU.
Intense debate on certification of services
Can we afford to continue without cross-border recognition of certification of services or should we promote for example pan-European solutions? And what role should the standardisation of services play at national and European level? These topics were discussed at a workshop on the role of certification linked to standardisation that took place on 1 March 2012. The event was hosted by the EFTA Secretariat and Nordic Innovation in cooperation with the European Commission, CEN, ANEC and Normapme.