Advisory bodies hold lively debate with EEA EFTA Ministers

Published 17-11-2011
On 15 November 2011, the Standing Committee of the EFTA States at Ministerial level, the Committee of Members of Parliament of the EFTA States and the EFTA Consultative Committee held a joint meeting at the EFTA Secretariat in Brussels. The Foreign Ministers gave a short briefing on the outcome of the EEA Council that had taken place earlier in the afternoon, which was followed by a debate between the Ministers and the members of the two committees.

The meeting was co-chaired by the Chair of the Consultative Committee, Mr Halldór Grönvold, and the Chair of the Parliamentary Committees, Mr Svein Roald Hansen. The meeting was attended by Dr Aurelia Frick, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein and Chair of the Standing Committee at Ministerial level; Mr Jonas Gahr Støre, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway; Mr Einar Gunnarsson, Permanent Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iceland; and members of the two committees. 

The purpose of the meeting, the third of its kind, was to inform EFTA's advisory bodies of the outcome of the EEA Council meeting and the main issues currently on the agenda in the EEA. As President of the EEA Council in the second half of 2011, Minister Frick made a statement detailing the discussion that had taken place earlier in the afternoon, both on the overall functioning of the EEA Agreement and on the orientation debate, which focused on the measures taken to address the current economic crisis. She also provided the committees with an insight into the issues discussed in the political dialogue, namely the situation in North Africa and the Middle East, the promotion of international criminal justice, Afghanistan – ten years after, and Myanmar. Minister Støre and Permanent Secretary Gunnarsson provided additional comments to Minister Frick’s statement.

After the briefing by the Ministers, a lively debate followed in which the committee members posed numerous questions to the Ministerial side on issues ranging from the current economic crisis, the functioning of the EEA Agreement and the ongoing Norwegian EEA review process to the third Postal Directive and rising unemployment in Europe.

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