The EFTA Standing Committee and the EEA Joint Committee held their first meetings of 2017 in Brussels on 2 and 3 February respectively. The Standing Committee, chaired this semester by Norway, heard reports from the delegations on recent high-level meetings.
Norwegian Ambassador Oda Helen Sletnes reported on a meeting in Oslo on 25 January between Norwegian Ministers and the European Commission’s Chief Negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier, at which Mr Barnier had assured Norway that the European Union would remain in close contact with the EEA EFTA States during the negotiation process. He also said that it was a priority for the EU to safeguard the EEA Agreement. Ambassador Sletnes stressed the fact that Norway wished to stay in close dialogue with the United Kingdom.
During a meeting in Valletta on 1 February, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat signed Memoranda of Understanding on the EEA and Norway Grants 2014-2021, as well as on the implementation of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism.
The Liechtenstein Ambassador to the EU, Ms Sabine Monauni, reported on the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, at which Foreign Minister Aurelia Frick had taken part in a panel discussion on “New Models for Europe”.
Iceland’s Ambassador to the EU, Ms Bergdís Ellertsdóttir, referred to two meetings of the new Icelandic Foreign Minister, Mr Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, with the newly appointed Norwegian Minister of EEA and EU Affairs, Mr Frank Bakke-Jensen. She said that the two Ministers shared the same views on the importance of maintaining close cooperation between the EEA EFTA States.
All three EEA EFTA States agreed that EEA EFTA Comments were a good tool for cooperating with the EU on specific issues.
Ambassador of Switzerland, Mr Urs Bucher, updated the Standing Committee on the state of affairs in Swiss – EU relations and recent contacts in that regard.
The EFTA Secretary-General, Mr Kristinn F. Árnason, thanked the Norwegian delegation for having organised a meeting with Mr Bakke-Jensen on 18 January, and highlighted that this meeting had provided an opportunity to discuss the importance of continued close cooperation between the EEA EFTA States and the EFTA Secretariat. Concerning Brexit, the Secretary-General stated that while uncertainty about the discussions between the UK and the EU remained, both the process and the outcome of these discussions would affect all the EFTA States.
At its meeting on 3 February 2017, the EEA Joint Committee adopted 45 decisions incorporating 83 legal acts into the EEA Agreement.
Provisional texts of EEA Joint Committee Decisions on 3 February 2017
Pictures of the meetings can be found through the following link
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