At the Ísafjörður meeting, under the chairmanship of Mr Halldór Halldórsson, Iceland, the Forum held a discussion on the EEA Review and the interplay of the internal market and EU regional policy, in particular the Norwegian report Outside and Inside – Norway’s agreements with the European Union. Mr Jan-Ole Gudmundsen, Senior Adviser, EEA/EFTA-Section, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented the report and Dr Eiríkur Bergmann, Director of the Centre for European Studies at Bifröst University gave a presentation entitled Iceland, the EEA and EU‘s regional policy. Mr Christian Haugen , Hedmark County Council, then presented a draft opinion on the Review of the EEA Agreement, which was adopted by the Forum.
Mr Guðjón Bragason, Head of Legal Affairs, Icelandic Association of Local Authorities, gave a presentation on the European rules on environmental impact assessment and their implications for local and regional authorities. The presentation was followed by a debate and the adoption of an opinion prepared by Ms Ásgerður Halldórsdóttir, Mayor of Seltjarnarnes, Iceland.
The Forum also heard a presentation by Mr Marius Vahl Senior Officer, EEA Coordination Division of the EFTA Secretariat who gave an overview of recent developments in EFTA and Mr Roland Krimm, Representative of the Swiss Cantons gave a presentation on current discussions on Swiss-EU relations. Mr Henning Jensen, Member of the Committee of the Regions then updated the Forum on recent developments in the Committee of the Regions and the experience of Danish regions of the work in the Committee.
The EEA EFTA Forum was set up by a decision of the Standing Committee of the EFTA States as an informal body to involve elected representatives from local and regional authorities in EEA matters. The Forum has 12 members, six from Iceland and six from Norway. Liechtenstein has decided not to take part in the meetings for the time being.
The agenda for the meeting is available here.