EEA Council discusses Brexit and the European Pillar of Social Rights

Published 20-11-2018
From left: Ms Aurelia Frick, Ms Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide, Mr Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Mr Michel Barnier, Ms Karin Kneissl.
On 20 November 2018, the EEA Council convened in Brussels for its 50th meeting to discuss recent developments under the EEA Agreement, as well as the European Pillar of Social Rights.

The EEA Council was chaired by Ms Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway. Representing the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Ms Karin Kneissl, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Austria, co-chaired the meeting. On the EEA EFTA side, the EEA Council was also attended by Ms Aurelia Frick, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein, and Mr Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland

Speaking on behalf of the EEA EFTA States, the Chair, Minister Eriksen Søreide, highlighted that the EEA Agreement, which over the last 25 years has successfully strengthened economic relations between the EEA EFTA States and the EU in the Internal Market, continues to function well and has proved to be a “flexible and durable Agreement”.

The Chair also noted current challenges such as the growing number of regulatory agencies and supervisory authorities in the Internal Market. “Finding solutions on how to reflect the decision-making powers of the agencies in the institutional set-up of the EEA is a core concern for us,” she said.

While practical and mutually acceptable solutions have been found through joint efforts and close dialogue, the issue of agencies and authorities will remain high on the EEA EFTA States’ agenda. “We are also following closely the discussions on the possible establishment of a European Labour Authority,” said Minister Eriksen Søreide.

Orientation debate on the European Pillar of Social Rights
On the agenda for the Council meeting was the European Pillar of Social Rights in the context of the EEA Agreement. The Social Pillar, of which the European Labour Authority proposal is part, sets out a number of principles and rights to support fair and well-functioning labour markets and welfare systems.

“The social dimension is an integral part of the EEA Agreement, and is becoming ever more important. Further efforts to ensure fair working conditions and equal opportunities in the labour market are essential not only for the functioning of the Internal Market, but also to demonstrate and reinforce the practical benefits of the EEA to our citizens,” said Minister Eriksen Søreide.

 

 

Political dialogue on Brexit
Prior to the meeting of the EEA Council, the EEA EFTA Ministers met with their EU counterparts for an informal political dialogue on the implications of Brexit for the EEA Agreement.

“In our political dialogue earlier this morning, we had a long discussion on Brexit and its consequences for the EEA. We appreciate the mutual commitment to safeguarding the EEA Agreement and preserving the integrity of the Internal Market,” said Minister Eriksen Søreide.

 

 

This is what the Chair and Foreign Minister of Norway, Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide said after the meeting

 

Find the conclusions of the 50th meeting of the EEA Council here.

Find high-resolution photos from the meeting here.

 

Head of EEA Policy Coordination
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