On 19 and 20 November the EFTA Parliamentary Committee (EFTA PC) convened in Brussels under the Chairmanship of Smári McCarthy, Member of the Icelandic Parliament. The parliamentarians met to discuss both third-country issues and EEA-related business in view of their meetings with the EFTA Ministerial Chair and the EEA EFTA Foreign Affairs Ministers.
Considering the recent political agreement reached by both the EU and EFTA with the Mercosur countries on a free trade agreement, the parliamentarians discussed the content of the EU–Mercosur deal and the way forward with officials of the European Commission. With their recent work on strengthening the provisions of the EFTA model text on trade and sustainable development (TSD) in mind, the Parliamentarians discussed the EU policy in this field with Madelaine Tuininga, Head of TSD Unit in the Directorate-General for Trade of the European Commission.
Maria Åsenius, Head of Cabinet to Commissioner Malmström, outlined the EU trade policy achievements at the end of the Juncker Commission. She exchanged views with EFTA Parliamentarians on several topics such as: the tensions in the global trading environment, the US–China trade war and its impact on the EU, as well as with regard to threats to the multilateral rules-based system and the WTO. The EFTA Parliamentarians discussed the EU trade policy prospects with Jörgen Warborn, MEP and member of the International Trade Committee (INTA) of the European Parliament.
The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union was also on the agenda of the EFTA PC. The parliamentarians discussed the state of play and the UK’s future trade relationships after Brexit with Rory O’Donnell, Trade Director at the Permanent Representation of the United Kingdom to the EU.
At their internal meetings, the parliamentarians adopted their work programme for the first half of 2020. They exchanged views on the recent political developments in their respective countries. They assessed the draft budget proposal of the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) and adopted an opinion on it. The EFTA PC also elected Svein Roald Hansen, Member of the Norwegian Parliament, as Chair of the EFTA PC in 2020. Eric Nussbaumer, Member of the Swiss Parliament and Elfried Hasler, Member of the Liechtenstein Parliament were elected as Vice-Chairs.
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