Close cooperation between the EFTA States and the EU Member States is crucial during these times of turbulent geopolitical developments, rising energy prices and uncontrolled inflation, stressed Liechtenstein’s Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr Daniel Risch at this year’s EFTA ECOFIN meeting on 8 November. The meeting is an annual forum between EFTA and EU Ministers of Finance and the Economy where mutual economic issues are discussed. The meeting is held on the margins of the EU Council of Finance and Economic Affairs (ECOFIN).
This year, the meeting was chaired by Czech Minister of Finance, Mr Zbyněk Stanjura. In his address he emphasised the importance of European solidarity as regards Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. He thanked the EFTA States for their stance on sanctions against Russia and for their support to Ukraine, and recognised in particular Norway’s key role in ensuring energy stability.
The EFTA countries were represented by Liechtenstein’s Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr Daniel Risch, Iceland’s Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs Guðmundur Árnason, Norway’s Minister of Finance Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, and Switzerland’s State Secretary of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs Helene Budliger Artieda.
As Liechtenstein chairs the EFTA Economic Committee this year, Dr Risch delivered a statement on behalf of the EFTA States. He first expressed the EFTA States' unequivocal backing for the EU's actions in support of Ukraine and for the economic sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation.
With regards to climbing energy prices, Dr Risch pointed to the difficult situation facing European policy-makers. “Rising energy prices and risks to energy supply require decisive and immediate action, while the credibility of climate policy must be maintained”, he said.
Inflation is another challenge for policy-makers across the EFTA countries. Stressing the need to bring it under control, Dr Risch underlined how a sensible fiscal policy can support the central banks’ monetary policy. “From a cyclical perspective, governments can support the fight against inflation by tightening fiscal policy, as currently being implemented in Norway and Iceland”, he said.
Commissioner for Economy, Mr Paolo Gentiloni, summarised the status of the EU’s economy and noted that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has fuelled an already high inflation. He said that while the EU was particularly hit due to geographical proximity to Russia, the EU and EFTA faced similar economic challenges.
Read the Common Paper of the EFTA States.
Find pictures from the meeting here.
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