On 14 November, the EEA EFTA Ministers, the Committee of Members of Parliament of the EFTA States (MPS) and the EFTA Consultative Committee (EFTA CC) met at the EFTA Secretariat in Brussels. This annual meeting takes place in connection with the EEA Council and provides an opportunity for the two advisory bodies to discuss current EEA issues with the Ministers.
The EEA EFTA Ministers came directly from the EEA Council meeting to brief the parliamentarians and social partners on the outcome of that meeting and to exchange views on the main issues currently on the agenda in the EEA.
The joint hosts, Chair for the MPS, Mr Svein Roald Hansen and the Chair for the EFTA CC, Mr Halldór Árnason, opened the meeting by welcoming the Ministers and members.
The Ministerial Chair of the Standing Committee of the EFTA States, Minister Aurelia Frick, briefed on the outcome of the EEA Council and the political dialogue, in which implication for the EEA Agreement Brexit had been on the agenda:
“In our discussions on Brexit with the EU’s chief negotiator, Mr Michel Barnier, it was emphasised that the UK's withdrawal from the EU will have direct implications for all participants in the Single Market, including the EEA EFTA States. We expressed our appreciation of the close dialogue we have established with the EU negotiating team, both at a political and a technical level.”
The Ministerial Chair also addressed horizontal issues such as the number of legal acts awaiting incorporation and the issue of the EEA EFTA States participating in relevant EU agencies and supervisory authorities.
“We have seen in recent months that the processing of important legal acts and packages has been delayed on the EU side, notably with regard to financial services. Following the breakthrough concerning the ESAs (European Supervisory Authorities) last autumn, we have managed to incorporate only nine acts in this area. Over 250 acts are still outstanding in the field of financial services, constituting almost half of the current backlog.
Another challenging issue has been the participation of the EEA EFTA States in relevant EU agencies and supervisory authorities. So far, we have been able to find mutually acceptable solutions for our participation in regulatory agencies in sectors such as financial services and energy. In other areas, such as data protection and telecommunications, we need to continue our work.”
Members of both committees engaged in dialogue about the number of legal acts awaiting incorporation, especially in the field of financial services. Some members raised concern that the backlog created an unequal playing field.
The Consultative Committee of EFTA is a forum for trade unions and employers’ organisations in the four Member States. Through its cooperation with social partners in the European Union, the Committee also serves as a link between social partners in EFTA and in the EU.
The Committee of Members of Parliament of the EFTA States (MPS) deals with EEA-related matters and forms the EFTA side of the EEA JPC. Switzerland has observer status in the MPS.
Find high-resolution photos from the meeting here.
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