First EFTA Council meeting under one-year Icelandic Chairmanship

Published 13-07-2021
Harald Aspelund, EFTA Council Chairperson, Iceland
On 12 July, the EFTA Council met in a hybrid format to discuss EFTA-EU cooperation, work regarding third countries, horizontal issues, and to exchange views on policy developments.

On EFTA EU Cooperation, the EEA Joint Committee had recently incorporated a regulation governing the EU COVID-19 certificate, allowing for a simultaneous entry into force across the EEA. The EEA EFTA States were also working closely with the Slovenian Presidency who has placed the economic recovery as a top priority of their programme for the second half of this year. Regarding work with third countries, delegates discussed recent meetings with India and Moldova, as well as the latest updates on E-commerce. Horizontal issues were also reported on – in particular, trade and sustainable development, technical cooperation and transparency. On policy developments, delegates welcomed the recent signature of a Free Trade agreement between the UK and the three EEA EFTA States.

Delegates were particularly pleased to note that the EFTA Council had adopted a revised mandate for the EFTA Board of Auditors “at four”. The mandate will better reflect international audit standards and will allow EBOA to now perform compliance and performance audits of the EFTA Secretariat. Also regarding EBOA, the EFTA Council referred the documents in relation to the 2020 budget of the EFTA Secretariat to the EFTA budget Committee.

Ambassadors took the opportunity of the Council meeting to discuss the follow up after the meeting between EFTA Ministers in Iceland on 6-7 July, including the priorities of the Icelandic Chair. The priorities are available on the EFTA website.

Delegates thanked the Deputy-Secretary General Mr Pascal Schafhauser for his good cooperation and excellent contribution to the work at EFTA. This was his last EFTA Council meeting as Secretary to the Council before taking up his new role as Liechtenstein's Ambassador to the EU and the Kingdom of Belgium.

The next Council meeting is scheduled to take place on Tuesday 21 September.


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