EFTA Parliamentary Committee hosts its annual trade seminar at the new EFTA House

Published 12-02-2022
The new Icelandic PC delegation, from left: Arndís Anna Kristínardóttir Gunnarsdóttir, Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdóttir, Diljá Mist Einarsdóttir, Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, and Ingibjörg Ólöf Isaksen (chair), with Christophe Zufferey, EFTA officer to the PC.

On 8 and 9 February 2022, the EFTA Parliamentary Committee (EFTA PC) convened at the new EFTA House in Brussels under the Chairmanship of Ms Ingibjörg Ólöf Isaksen, Member of the Icelandic Parliament. The EFTA Parliamentarians gathered over two days to hear the latest developments of the EU trade policy, challenges linked to the multilateral rules-based system and the WTO and EFTA third-country relations.

“As the new Chair of the Icelandic Parliamentary Delegation to the EFTA and EEA Parliamentary Committees, I am pleased to also have the privilege to chair the EFTA Parliamentary Committee in 2022. It is a real pleasure for me and my colleagues of the Icelandic delegation to have the opportunity to meet you all here in Brussels,” Ms Isaksen said in her opening remarks.

Parliamentarians from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland first discussed the latest developments and priorities of the EU trade policy with Mr Léon Delvaux, Acting Director Neighbouring Countries at the Directorate-General for trade of the European Commission and with Niclas Poitiers, Senior Research Fellow at the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel.

Mr Poitiers went through the 20 years of stagnating in WTO negotiations, but also pointed at some paralysis in European trade policies. “The EU has responded with many bilateral agreements. However, many agreements have yet to be ratified and in some cases the opportunity has slipped away and the benefits of trade have decreased,” he said.

The Committee also took stock of the state of play of the EU trade and sustainable development agenda with Ms Geraldine Emberger, Advisor on Implementation of EU trade agreements at the European Commission. It also provided the opportunity to discuss the first annual report of the European Commission on the screening of Foreign Direct Investments into the EU.

The EFTA PC also discussed with key Members of the European Parliament EU initiatives and legislative proposals in the area of trade enforcement which are currently being negotiated by the EU institutions: the European Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism; the EU anti-coercion tool; and the International Procurement instrument. 

Mr Sébastien Miroudot, Senior trade policy analyst at the OECD, briefed the parliamentarians about global value chains and related challenges linked to the pandemic.  Dr Malorie Schaus provided an overview of the current challenges of the multilateral rules-based system and WTO reform needs. EFTA parliamentarians also discussed with Wolf Meier-Ewert, Counsellor at the WTO Secretariat, a controversial WTO negotiation amid the COVID-19 pandemic relating to waiving the protection of intellectual property rights on health-related products and technologies – including COVID vaccines.

Together with the EFTA Consultative Committee, the EFTA PC also discussed latest developments of the EFTA third-country relations with high-level trade experts from the EFTA States.

The EFTA Parliamentary Committee is a forum for parliamentarians from the four Member States: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. The role of the Committee is to advise EFTA States on all issues relevant to EFTA such as its relations with trade partners worldwide.  

Photos from the PC trade seminar

Senior Officer
EEA Coordination Division

+32 22861 710

Head of Information and Communication
Secretary-General's Office

Was the content helpful?