Celebrating 25 years of European Economic Area cooperation

Published 28-05-2019
From left: Timo Pesonen, Ine Eriksen Søreide, Aurelia Frick, Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarso and Ștefan-Radu Oprea
On 20 May, the three foreign ministers of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, met with representatives from the EU for a panel discussion on the EEA Agreement, in Brussels.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA), foreign ministers Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Aurelia Frick and Ine Eriksen Søreide, representing the EEA EFTA States, met with Timo Pesonen, Director-General of DG GROW, and Romanian Minister Ștefan-Radu Oprea​ for an interesting discussion moderated by journalist Brian Maguire.

The event attracted more than 150 invited guests, and the discussion was focused on the past, present and future of the EEA Agreement.

On the importance of the EEA Agreement for Iceland, Mr Þórðarson said: “The EEA gives young people in Iceland the opportunity to move and study all over Europe. It gives older people the opportunity to buy houses and be part of the health system. The EEA Agreement was a game changer for Iceland.”

Liechtenstein’s foreign minister highlighted the fact that “almost all of the goods produced in Liechtenstein are exported,” which means the country’s industry “relies on having access to the single market.”

“Of course, we sometimes think that there is a lot of regulation coming from the EU, especially in financial services. But at the end of the day, when we talk to our citizens, our banks, but also our small and medium-sized companies, almost everybody agrees that this is the best integration that we could choose,” said Ms Frick.

Looking back on the 25 years of the EEA Agreement, the Norwegian foreign minister emphasised that “in addition to peace and democratic development, we have experienced an almost uninterrupted period of economic growth since 1994, both in Norway and in many other countries in the EU. For us the EEA safeguards everything that is important to us.”

“We have a generation now that have never experienced anything but living with the EEA Agreement. I think we have to take a step back and remind ourselves and our public about the benefits that we have a tendency to take for granted. The EEA is a way of cooperating on areas that are fundamental to our welfare and prosperity, and to the future of our citizens,” said Ms Eriksen Søreide.

 

Find more pictures from the event here.

Watch the discussion in full here.

 

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Seminar on the European Economic Area - Brussels 17 September 2019