The EFTA Consultative Committee representatives underlined that social dialogue was an integral part of labour market policy and political governance in all four EFTA States, and the EFTA social partners also remained relentless in their promotion of social dialogue in the EEA. The importance of social partnership was recognised within EFTA through the establishment of the EFTA Consultative Committee almost 50 years ago and has been further strengthened and institutionalised with the entry into force of the EEA Agreement in 1994.
Furthermore, the EFTA social partners underlined the importance of the Internal Market and reminded their Croatian colleagues that Croatian accession to the EU would mean that the current EFTA-Croatia Free Trade Agreement would be replaced by a much broader EEA Agreement and by the Swiss-EU Bilateral Agreements. This would result in a much stronger and more integrated relationship between their countries which the EFTA Consultative Committee very much welcomed.
With regard to Croatian accession to the EU, the EFTA social partners underlined the importance of a simultaneous EU and EEA enlargement and a level playing field throughout the enlarged EEA; involvement of the EFTA and Croatian social partners in the EEA enlargement process; increased information and communication about the EEA Agreement; and EEA EFTA contribution to social and economic cohesion in the EEA. While the latter is not a legal obligation under the EEA Agreement, it signals an important political commitment to a more homogenous Internal Market. The EFTA Consultative Committee delegation underlined especially the importance of a new fund for social dialogue and decent work in the EEA and hoped that one day this would also include projects between EFTA and Croatian social partners.
In preparation for the meetings with the Croatian social partners, the EFTA Consultative Committee also received briefings by the Norwegian Ambassador to Croatia, H.E. Mr Terje Hauge, by representatives of the Swiss Embassy in Zagreb, Ms Lotti Sinniger and Mr Pero Katušić, and by the Croatian authorities, represented by Ms Dubravka Vlašić Pleše, Director and Secretary of Negotiating Team, Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration.
The EFTA Consultative Committee delegation consisted of the following members:
- Ms Karin Enodd, Advisor, Norwegian Confederation of Labour
- Mr Henrik Munthe, Negotiator/Lawyer, Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise
- Mr Knut Hjort-Johansen, Senior Advisor/European Coordinator, Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities
- Mr Marco Taddei, Deputy Director, Swiss Association of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises
- Ms Siri Relling, Advisor European Affairs, Norwegian Confederation of Labor
The EFTA delegation met with the following Croatian partners:
- Croatian Employers' Association: Ms Lidija Horvatic, Director, International Relations and EU Affairs; Ms Jelena Katic, Advisor, International Relations and EU Affairs; and Mr Emil Kuhtic, Economic Advisor
- Union of Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia: Ms Ana Knezevic, President; Ms Ana Milicevic Pezelj, Head of Organisation, Education and Publishing Department; and Mr Darko Seperic, Coordinator for European Integration
- Independent Trade Unions of Croatia: Mr Krešimir Sever, President; and Ms Marija Hanževački, General Secretary
Download the programme of the delegation visit here.
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