EFTA advisory bodies meet with Foreign Ministers

Published 18-11-2020
Clockwise from top left: Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs, Katrin Eggenberger, Liechtenstein Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Co-chair Sigi Langenbahn, Co-Chair Svein Roald Hansen, and Henri Gétaz, Secretary General of EFTA

On 18 November, the EFTA Parliamentary Committee (EFTA PC) and the EFTA Consultative Committee (EFTA CC) met with the EEA EFTA Ministers following the meeting of the EEA Council.

The aim of the meeting was for the advisory bodies to be briefed on the conclusions of the EEA Council. Svein Roald Hansen, Chair of the EFTA Parliamentary Committee, and Sigi Langenbahn, representing the EFTA Consultative Committee, were joint hosts and co-chaired the meeting.

At ministerial level, the meeting was attended by Katrin Eggenberger, the Liechtenstein Minister for Foreign Affairs as the Ministerial Chair of the Standing Committee of the EFTA States; Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iceland; and Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway. Minister Eggenberger shared the points discussed in the EEA Council highlighting the impact of COVID-19 on the Internal Market. She stressed how excellent the cooperation between the European Commission and the EFTA Surveillance Authority had been on the alignment of State aid rules.

In his statement, Svein Roald Hansen informed the ministers about the outcome of the meeting of the EEA Joint Parliamentary Committee (EEA JPC) that took place two days earlier on 16 November 2020. He referred to the resolution adopted by the EEA JPC and stressed that very clear points had been made regarding the conditionality of the financial support provided by the EEA/Norway Grants and the respect of the rule of law. Referring to the current challenges the EU and the EEA are facing he said: “our continued cooperation with the EU in the Internal Market and within the EEA will be very important to handle the pandemic”. “It will be crucial that we remain committed to the EEA cooperation and engage with the EU in a proactive manner on new initiatives”.

Speaking for the EFTA CC, Sigi Langenbahn shared his satisfaction on the very active work of the CC over the last months stressing the key role of the EEA Agreement in this regard amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He mentioned the need for “strong coordination to ensure a more sustainable and robust economic recovery from this crisis”. The two recent resolutions adopted by the EEA Consultative Committee on the European Green Deal and the EU’s New Industrial Strategy are two policies at the core of next year’s work at the European Commission. Mr Langenbahn stressed the importance of placing the twin ecological and digital transitions at the centre of economy recovery efforts in the EEA, while simultaneously ensuring that policies remain fair and just.

The EFTA PC and the EFTA CC are EFTA's advisory bodies. The EFTA PC is a forum of parliamentarians from the four EFTA countries, while the EFTA CC brings together representatives of the trade union confederations and employers’ associations in the four EFTA countries. The mission of both advisory bodies is to scrutinise and provide advice on the EFTA States’ trade relations with third countries as well as on the relations with the EU through the implementation of the EEA Agreement. Both advisory bodies are vital platforms for dialogue and consultation on social, economic and political aspects of the EFTA free trade agreements and the functioning of the EEA.

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