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
The Parliamentary Committee usually holds 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 European Economic Area (EEA) and EFTA’s third-country relations.
With regard to the EEA, the Committee focuses on such issues as whether it is functioning well, the latest political developments in the European Union and how these will impact the EEA.
The Committee has recently put an increased emphasis on EFTA’s third-country relations. A Committee delegation usually visits one of EFTA’s partner countries each year in order to support the launch or continuation of free trade negotiations. With regard to EFTA’s third-country relations, the Committee has paid particular attention in recent years to human rights and environmental policies in free trade agreements.
The Committee also follows the state of play in WTO multilateral framework negotiations, and has observer status in the Parliamentary Conference on the World Trade Organization, organised jointly by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and European Parliament.
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 European Union and the EFTA States in the fields covered by the EEA Agreement. The focus of the EEA JPC 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 also addresses matters of interest to the EEA EFTA States with EU Commissioners and Commission representatives, with the aim of raising the profile of these issues.
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.
More information can be found in the reports and resolutions adopted by the EEA Joint Parliamentary Committee.
Members of the EFTA Parliamentary Committee (June 2013)
Mr Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Independence Party
Mr Árni Páll Árnason, Social Democratic Alliance
Mr Árni Þór Sigurðsson, Left-Green Movement
Mr Vilhjálmur Bjarnason, Independence Party
Mr Willum Þór Þórsson, Progressive Party
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
Mr Albert Frick, Progressive Citizens' Party
Mr Harry Quaderer, Independent
Mr Manfred Kaufmann, Patriotic Union
Mr Eugen Nägele, Progressive Citizens' Party
Mr Svein Roald Hansen, Labour Party (Vice-Chair CMP/MPS)
Mr Harald T. Nesvik, Progress Party
Ms Rannveig Kviste Andresen, Socialist Left Party
Ms Laila Gustavsen, Labour Party
Ms Laila Marie Reiersten, Progress Party
Mr Jan Tore Sanner, Conservative Party
Mr Nikolai Astrup, Conservative Party
Ms Laila Dåvøy, Christian Democratic Party
Mr Steinar Gullvåg, Labour Party
Ms Irene Johansen, Labour Party
Ms Siri A. Meling, Conservative Party
Ms Janne Sjelmo Nordås, Centre Party
Mr Jørund Rytman, Progress Party
Mr Kåre Simensen, Labour Party
Ms Borghild Tenden, Liberal Party
Mr Torgeir Trældal, Progress Party
Swiss delegation (observers in the MPS)
Ms Kathy Riklin, Christian Democratic Party
Mr Didier Berberat, Social Democratic Party
Mr Ignazio Cassis, FDP. The Liberals
Mr Konrad Graber, Christian Democratic Party
Mr Hans Kaufmann, Swiss People's Party
Mr Thomas Aeschi, Swiss People's Party
Mr Hannes Germann, Swiss People's Party
Ms Karin Keller-Sutter, FDP. The Liberals
Mr Jacques-André Maire, Social Democratic Party
Mr Eric Nussbaumer, Social Democratic Party