The EEA Council meets twice a year and provides political impetus for the development of the EEA Agreement, which has been the cornerstone of relations between the EEA EFTA States and the European Union for more than 20 years. The EEA EFTA States are represented in the EEA Council at Ministerial level.
On this occasion, the EEA Council discussed developments in the EEA Agreement since its last meeting in November 2014. Ministers underlined the importance of the further development of the extended Single Market for all parties, and welcomed the efforts made to reduce the number of legal acts awaiting incorporation into the EEA Agreement and urged all parties to engage constructively in finding solutions to difficult unresolved issues.
Ministers also discussed the EEA Financial Mechanisms. The EEA Council noted the positive results of the EEA and Norway Financial Mechanisms for 2009-2014, but recognised that there was still a need to alleviate social and economic disparities in the EEA. Negotiations on the continuation of the Mechanisms were launched in January 2014, and the EEA Council called for increased efforts to conclude these swiftly.
In addition, an orientation debate was held on the Digital Agenda, including the Digital Single Market proposed recently by the European Commission.
Other matters considered were resolutions adopted by the EEA Joint Parliamentary Committee since the EEA Council’s last meeting, and a progress report on the activities of the EEA Joint Committee, which is prepared for each EEA Council meeting to aid its assessment of the overall functioning of the EEA Agreement.
In the political dialogue that followed the meeting, discussions focused on Ukraine and the Russian Federation; the Eastern Partnership; and Syria, Iraq, Libya and ISIL, including the need to combat radicalisation and extremist violence in Europe.
The EEA Council was chaired by Ms Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, Parliamentary State Secretary for EU Affairs of Latvia, representing the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The meeting was attended by Mr Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, Ms Aurelia Frick, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein, and Mr Vidar Helgesen, Minister of EEA and EU Affairs at the Office of the Prime Minister of Norway. Representatives of the European Commission and the European External Action Service also participated.
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