Celebrating 30 years of the EEA: flagship seminar draws 500 participants

Published 14-03-2024

On 12 March, the EFTA Secretariat hosted its flagship event, the introductory seminar on the European Economic Area (EEA) – this year with a special anniversary twist, commemorating 30 years of the EEA Agreement. 

“As we celebrate 30 years of successful cooperation, we're also committed to ensuring that the EEA remains fit for the future. The timely incorporation of acts is crucial for a well-functioning Internal Market and for maintaining strong cooperation with the EU,” said EFTA Secretary-General Siri Veseth Meling in her opening remarks. 

A total of 100 people attended the seminar in person at EFTA House in Brussels and a further 400 participants followed online. With 500 people altogether in attendance, EFTA has set a new participation record for the EEA Seminar. 

The Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bjarni Benediktsson, gave a special anniversary address via video in his current role as Chair of the EFTA Standing Committee. He highlighted that the enormous benefits of the EEA could never be taken for granted. “In a nutshell, the EEA Agreement enriches our daily lives and opens doors for our businesses, consumers, researchers and students alike. Furthermore, the EEA EFTA States participate in different EU programmes, which has significantly strengthened scientific research, education, culture and creative cooperation in our countries”. 

Michael Mareel, Chair of the EFTA Working Party, provided the EU perspective on behalf of the Belgian presidency of the Council of the European Union. “The EEA Agreement is the most comprehensive agreement the EU has ever entered into with non-EU countries. The free circulation of persons, goods, services and capital through the application of homogenous rules and policies is something we do not have with any other partner in the world. The contribution of these 30 years of cooperation to economic development and prosperity for the nearly half a billion people within our 30 states is enormous.” 

Experts from the EFTA Secretariat, EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA), EFTA Court and EEA and Norway Grants delivered presentations on how the EEA Agreement is implemented and the many aspects of this  work. This year, the speakers and panellists focused on uncovering past, present and future perspectives of EEA cooperation, commemorating the Agreement’s 30th anniversary. 

After lunch, participants at EFTA House were able to choose between four break-out sessions running in parallel throughout the afternoon. Experts from EFTA, ESA, the EFTA Court, NORCORE (the Norwegian Contact Office for Research, Innovation and Education) and Rannís (the Icelandic Centre for Research) led the specialised sessions, enabling participants to delve into important EEA topics in a more interactive way. The workshops focused on the following: 

From EU Law to EEA Law 

EEA Enforcement: Surveillance and Judicial Control 

EEA at 30 Years: Influencing the Green and Digital Transition 

EEA at 30 Years: Empowering People through EU Programmes

 

The next EEA Seminar will take place in September 2024. 

 

Seminar material:

All photos from the seminar are available here.

All recordings from the seminar are available here.

How the EEA Agreement Works - see the recording here.

From EU Law to EEA Law: An Introduction - see the recording here.

EEA at 30 Years: Dynamic Agreement in a Changing Europe - see the recording here.

How EEA EFTA States can Influence EU Law-making: An Introduction - see the recording here.

Parliamentarians, Social Partners and Local/Regional Representation in the EEA - see the recording here.

EEA Enforcement: ESA and the EFTA Court - see the recording here.

EEA and Norway Grants Reduce Disparities and Strengthen Cooperation in Europe - see the recording here.

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