EEA parliamentarians aim for a green, digital and competitive Single Market

Published 15-12-2023

Strengthening the foundations of a competitive and resilient Single Market in times of major political shifts was the core topic of interest when EFTA parliamentarians met with their European Parliament counterparts for the 60th time in the format of the EEA Joint Parliamentary Committee (EEA JPC) on 15 December 2023 in Vaduz.

The meeting was co-chaired by Trine Lise Sundnes, Chair of the EFTA Parliamentary Committee and President of the EEA JPC, and Andreas Schwab, EEA JPC Vice President and Chair of the delegation of the European Parliament for relations with the EFTA countries and the EEA.

Dr Graziella Marok-Wachter, Minister of Infrastructure and Justice of Liechtenstein, welcomed the committee. In her statement, she underlined the vital importance of the EEA Agreement for the prosperity of Liechtenstein. “On the verge of celebrating the 30th anniversary of the EEA Agreement, we need to remember how things have changed for the better in a generation. Our children have grown up in an environment without borders and with a single currency”, she remarked.

The EEA JPC members first took stock of the latest developments in the EEA since their last meeting on 15 and 16 March in Strasbourg. Ambassador Pascal Schafhauser, EFTA Chair of the EEA Joint Committee, representing the EFTA Chair of the EEA Council, stressed that “the sources of our competitiveness are being challenged by new geopolitical realities, and the issue of economic security has come to the fore. In this context, our EEA partnership is our strength. The EEA EFTA States are important partners in building a more resilient and competitive Internal Market – and in facilitating Europe’s open strategic autonomy. We have many leading industries and innovators, and some of us are also important suppliers of critical raw materials to the Internal Market”.

Trine Lise Sundnes introduced the draft resolution on the functioning of the EEA in 2022 and highlighted the core developments. She referred to the recent conclusion of negotiations on a new Financial Mechanism for 2021-2028, and recalled that “having an independent mechanism for the allocation of grants to civil society remains a precondition for funding”. The committee subsequently adopted the resolution.

Two important EU initiatives to accelerate the development of green and digital technologies also featured on the agenda: the Net Zero Industry Act (NZIA) and the recently adopted Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA). The shadow rapporteurs on these proposals, Christophe Grudler for the NZIA and Hildegard Bentele for the CRMA, commented on the European Parliament’s position and shared their views on the respective EEA EFTA Comments on these initiatives addressed to the EU institutions.

The EEA JPC members also exchanged views on how best to prevent the circumvention of economic sanctions against Russia and Belarus in the context of the war of aggression against Ukraine, discussing this challenge with two prominent experts in the field. Klaus Wiedner, Director at the European Commission, outlined the toolkit being used at EU level, and Michael Schöb, Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit, provided insights from Liechtenstein.

The EEA JPC is a joint forum composed of members of the national parliaments of the EEA EFTA States and Members of the European Parliament. Its mandate is to contribute – through dialogue and debate – to a better understanding between the EU and the EEA EFTA States in the fields covered by the EEA Agreement.

EEA EFTA Comment on the Net Zero Industry Act

EEA EFTA Comment on the Critical Raw Materials Act

See high-resolution photos from the meeting here.

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