On 27 October, the EFTA Parliamentary Committee (EFTA PC) convened through videoconference under the chairmanship of Svein Roald Hansen, Member of the Norwegian Parliament. The main topics of the meeting focused on the pressing issues relating to global trade, on the latest political developments in the four EFTA Member States and on preparing the meeting with the EFTA Ministers.
“Global trade is very much at a crossroads. The pandemic has not only revealed the vulnerability of supply chains but also accelerated already existing tensions and trends towards unilateralism and protectionism. Against this background, it is paramount for EFTA countries to rely on a stable and predictable multilateral rules-based system which has been very much under strain over the past few years,” said Mr Hansen.
The parliamentarians from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland received a keynote speech from Pascal Lamy, former EU Trade Commissioner and WTO Director-General, who gave his views on global trade at a crossroads. Speaking about the overwhelming impact of the pandemic on international and domestic affairs and ways of addressing the crisis he said: “we are not experiencing a change of paradigm when it comes to global trade. Globalisation is efficient and painful while de-globalisation is inefficient and painful. Globalisation will therefore continue at a slower pace - slowbalisation - with increased attention to the principle of precaution, that could turn into additional trade barriers in the long-term”.
As a former WTO Director-General, he also underlined the importance of keeping trade open and reducing the strain in the global trade system. “We need to restore trust amongst the main players and therefore the global trading system needs a good physiotherapist able to relax some of its tightened muscles and nerves”.
Pascal Lamy summarised the main messages he addressed to the EFTA parliamentarians in an interview that he recorded with the EFTA Secretariat.
Watch the full interview below:
The parliamentarians also exchanged views on the latest political developments in the EFTA States. The heads of delegations concentrated their intervention on the latest developments as regards the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken recently to cope with the recent surge of infections.
The rest of the meeting was dedicated to the preparation for the joint meeting with the EFTA Ministers later in the day.
The EFTA PC will meet jointly with the European Parliament on 16 November 2020 in the format of the EEA Joint Parliamentary Committee and on 18 November 2020 on the margins of the EEA Council. These meetings will take place online.
The EFTA PC is a forum for parliamentarians from the EFTA countries. It scrutinises EFTA States’ policies as regards the relations with the EU (through the implementation of the EEA Agreement) and on the trade relations with third-country partners beyond the EU.
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