Parliamentary Committee

The EFTA Parliamentary Committee is a forum for parliamentarians from the four Member States: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The work of the Committee provides EFTA with a valuable link to political life in each EFTA country, and through its cooperation with parliamentarians in the European Union, the Committee also serves as a link between political life in EFTA and the EU.

History and structure

Informal exchanges of views and discussions between parliamentarians from the different EFTA countries started back in 1963. These meetings were formalised in 1977 when the Committee of Members of Parliament of the EFTA Countries was founded.

Since 1981, regular meetings have taken place between the European Parliament and the Committee of Members of Parliament of EFTA Countries. With the entry into force of the EEA Agreement in 1994, these relations were institutionalised in the EEA Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC).

Since the entry into force of the EEA Agreement in 1994 there have in fact been two EFTA Parliamentary Committees: the Committee of Members of Parliament of the EFTA States (MPS), which deals with EEA related matters and forms the EFTA side of the EEA JPC, and the Committee of Members of Parliament of the EFTA Countries (CMP), which deals with all other matters, particularly relations with third countries. The CMP has up to five members from the national parliament of each EFTA country, while the MPS has six members from Norway, four from Iceland and two from Liechtenstein. Switzerland has observer status in the MPS. In practice, however, the CMP and MPS hold their meetings jointly and function practically as one.

CMP Rules of Procedure

MPS Rules of Procedure

 

Activities

The Parliamentary Committee usually holds around four meetings a year, in addition to the two customary joint meetings with EFTA ministers and a third country visit. The Committee attaches great importance to a number of issues related to the EEA and EFTA third-country relations, focusing on such issues as the functioning of the EEA, the latest political developments in the EU and their impact on the EEA, the state of play in the WTO multilateral framework negotiations and other aspects of free trade, such as human rights and environmental policies in free trade agreements. In 2008, the Committee obtained observer status in the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO, organised by the IPU and the European Parliament.

With representatives from each of the national parliaments, the Committee provides a valuable link to political life in each of the Member States: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Recently, the Committee has put increased emphasis on EFTA's third country relations and has visited partner countries such as Canada and India.

Informal meetings with the EFTA Consultative Committee ensure a fruitful exchange of views between parliamentarians and social partners in the EFTA Member States. Every other year the Committees jointly organise a conference on a given topic.  

Relations with the European Parliament

The task of the EEA Joint Parliamentary Committee is to contribute, through dialogue and debate, to a better understanding between the Community and the EFTA States in the fields covered by the EEA Agreement. The focus of the Committee is to scrutinise developments in the EU which have an impact on the functioning of the EEA Agreement, and its representatives have the right to put oral and written questions to the representatives of the EEA Council and the EEA Joint Committee. The EEA JPC meets twice a year, once in one of the three EEA EFTA States and once at the seat of the European Parliament in either Brussels or Strasbourg.

As a consultative body, the EEA JPC monitors developments in the EEA and expresses its views to the EFTA States on any matter of relevance to the EEA. This includes addressing issues related to the functioning of the EEA and exploring developments in the EU that may affect the EEA in the long run.

For much of the past 15 years, the bulk of deliberations in the EEA JPC meetings has been devoted to commenting on past developments and legislation that has already been adopted on the EU side. In recent years, however, the EEA JPC has become increasingly forward looking, keeping an eye on new initiatives that could become EEA relevant. Recent examples of topics that EFTA parliamentarians have raised, debated and passed resolutions on, include:

  • Health services in the EEA;
  • Open Method of Coordination and the EEA;
  • Energy and climate change and the implications for the EEA;
  • EU future maritime policy and the EEA; and
  • Europe’s High North and environmental issues.

 

The EEA JPC has also addressed these issues with Commissioners and Commission representatives with the aim of raising the profile of issues in which the EEA EFTA States have a high interest.

In 2007 and 2008 the EEA JPC focused its attention on the future perspectives for the EEA, reflecting on the structural changes of the EU since the EEA entered into force, by preparing a report on the subject. This undertaking highlighted possible ways for the EEA EFTA national parliaments to enhance their role in the development of the EEA by strengthening their relations with the European Parliament.

Reports and Resolutions adopted by the EEA Joint Parliamentary Committee

 

Members of the EFTA Parliamentary Committee (September 2014)

 

Icelandic delegation

Mr Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Independence Party

Mr Árni Páll Árnason, Social Democratic Alliance

Ms Katrin Jakobsdóttir, Left-Green Movement

Mr Vilhjálmur Bjarnason, Independence Party

Mr Willum Þór Þórsson, Progressive Party

Alternate members

Mr Birgir Ármannsson, Independence party

Ms Bjarkey Gunnarsdóttir, Left-Green Movement

Ms Elín Hirst, Independence Party

Mr Karl Garðarsson, Progressive Party

Ms Katrín Júlíusdóttir, Social Democratic Alliance

 

Liechtenstein delegation

Mr Elfried Hasler, Progressive Citizens' Party (Vice-chair MPS)

Mr Harry Quaderer, Independent

Alternate members

Mr Manfred Kaufmann, Patriotic Union

Mr Eugen Nägele, Progressive Citizens' Party

 
Norwegian delegation

Mr Svein Roald Hansen, Labour Party (Chair)

Mr Gunnar Gundersen, Conservative Party

Ms Marianne Aasen, Labour Party

Mr Nikolai Astrup, Conservative Party

Mr Jørund Rytman, Progress Party

Mr Geir Toskedal, Christian Democratic Party

Alternate members

Ms Irene Johansen, Labour Party

Mr Fredric Holen Bjørdal, Labour Party

Ms Jette F. Christensen, Labour Party

Ms Elin Rodum Agdestein, Conservative Party

Mr Ove Bernt Trellevik, Conservative Party

Mr Hans Andreas Limi, Progress Party

Mr Harald T. Nesvik, Progress Party

Ms Liv-Signe Navarsete, Centre Party

Mr Sveinung Rotevatn, Liberal Party

Mr Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås, Socialist Left Party

 
Swiss delegation (observers in the MPS)

Ms Kathy Riklin, Christian Democratic Party (Vice-chair CMP)

Mr Thomas Aeschi, Swiss People's Party

Mr Didier Berberat, Social Democratic Party

Mr Ignazio Cassis, FDP. The Liberals

Mr Konrad Graber, Christian Democratic Party

Alternate members

Mr Hannes Germann, Swiss People's Party

Mr Jean-François Rime, Swiss People's Party

Ms Karin Keller-Sutter, FDP. The Liberals

Mr Jacques-André Maire, Social Democratic Party

Mr Eric Nussbaumer, Social Democratic Party