The EFTA Council met in Geneva for the first meeting under Liechtenstein’s Chairmanship. During the meeting, Liechtenstein presented its priorities for the coming 12 months, which included the conclusion or significant progress of free trade agreements with several partner countries, keeping relations among the EFTA States updated, fostering transparency, and strengthening the benefits for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in free trade agreements. See the priorities of the Liechtenstein Chairmanship here.
Delegates discussed and appreciated the recent successful EFTA Ministerial meeting held on 20 June in Borgarnes, Iceland. The documents from the meeting can be found here.
On EFTA EU cooperation, the EFTA Secretariat updated the delegates on the reception hosted at EFTA House with the Czech Presidency and EFTA delegations, where the Czech priorities were presented. Iceland took over the Chairmanship of the EFTA Standing Committee on 1 July, and the first meeting was hosted on 7 July, followed by the Joint Committee meeting on 8 July.
The EFTA States reviewed ongoing third-country processes. The first negotiation round with Thailand was constructive and helped pave the path for a comprehensive and ambitious free trade agreement. A new round will be held in the autumn of 2022. The 4th round of the EFTA-Chile modernisation process is confirmed to take place before the end of the year. The Council also took stock of the processes with ASEAN, Mercosur, and the GCC.
The Secretariat reported that the first EFTA FTA Monitor had been published on the EFTA website on 15 June 2022. The dedicated working group had further agreed on a work plan for the year ahead. In addition, the Secretariat updated the Council on the work related to MSMEs and the sustainability impact assessment project for Thailand.
The EFTA Council referred the documents related to the EFTA Secretariat audit for the 2021 financial year to the EFTA Budget Committee for scrutiny. The Council also approved two operating grants with CEN and CENELEC.
Delegates thanked the Icelandic Ambassador, Mr. Harald Aspelund, and the Norwegian Ambassador, Mr. Dagfinn Sørli, for their outstanding cooperation and work as this was their last EFTA Council meeting before taking up other duties.
The next Council meeting is scheduled for 20 September 2022.
From left to right: Mr Aslak Berg - EFTA Senior Economic Officer, Ms Ólöf Hrefna Kristjánsdóttir - Minister Counsellor of Iceland, Mr Harald Aspelund - Ambassador of Iceland, Ms Helga Helland - Deputy Permanent Representative of Norway, Mr Dagfinn Sørli - Ambassador of Norway.
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