EEA EFTA States reiterate support with EU sanctions against Russia

Published 18-03-2022
The meeting took place via videoconference, but the next EEA Joint Committee meeting is due to take place in the Berlaymont building.
  • EFTA stands with Ukraine and cooperates closely with the European Union on the crisis
  • Adopts 43 decisions incorporating 73 legal acts, including on the safety of motor vehicles and the Covered Bonds Regulation

The EEA Joint Committee met on March 18 2022, the second meeting chaired by the European Commission. Nicolas von Lingen presided over the meeting on behalf of the European Commission and Pascal Schafhauser, Liechtenstein’s Ambassador to the EU, chaired the meeting on behalf of the EEA EFTA Member States.

EFTA stands with Ukraine

At the start of the meeting, Mr Schafhauser delivered a statement on the crisis in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion in late February.

“Our key message is not only that we stand with Ukraine but also that the EEA EFTA States are the closest allies and partners of the EU not only in good times but also in times of crisis. We are fully aligned with EU sanctions against Russia and stand united with the EU in expressing our solidarity with Ukraine, be it in the reception of displaced people or with comprehensive contributions of humanitarian aid to alleviate some of the suffering in and around Ukraine. We also closely cooperate with the EU in the framework of international organisations in their response to the crisis.

It cannot be emphasised enough that our special partnership with the EU contributes not only to our long-term shared prosperity and stability, but also – more fundamentally – to a Europe based on peace, democracy, the rule of law and human rights. This is also underlined by our current efforts to ensure that available and unutilised funding from our EEA Grants are put to the best possible use also for the benefit of those affected by the war in Ukraine in these extraordinary circumstances.

It remains to be seen how the EEA Agreement will be affected. You can though rest assured that we will be ready to act quickly to undertake any necessary actions as has been the case during the COVID crisis. In this regard, it goes without saying that it is important that we continue to be invited to the relevant meetings organised due to the crisis. We thank you for assisting us in ensuring EEA EFTA participation where necessary“, said Mr Schafhauser.

Urgent files adopted

“Among today´s Decisions, I would like to highlight the regulation on approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles and the regulation setting up rules and procedures in safety assessment of clinical trials. I am also glad to see the inclusion of some urgent files in the financial sector, such as the Covered Bonds Regulation. Thank you for your efforts in clearing these acts in time for adoption at today’s meeting“, Mr Schafhauser said.

Ensuring the safety of motor vehicles and trailers

Regulation (EU) 2018/858 sets out rules on technical requirements and procedures to ensure that new types of motor vehicles and their trailers conform to EU-approved safety and environmental protection requirements. The act aims to raise the quality level and independence of vehicle type-approval and testing, increase checks of cars that are already on the market, and strengthen the overall system with European oversight.

A streamlined process for clinical trials

The EU pharmaceutical legislation known as the Clinical Trials Regulation no 536/2014 entered into force on 31 January 2022. It harmonises the processes for assessment and supervision of clinical trials throughout the EU EEA and aims to ensure the EU offers an attractive environment for carrying out clinical research on a large scale, with high standards of public transparency and safety.

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2022/20 lays down rules and procedures for the application of the Clinical Trials Regulation and establishes rules and procedures for the cooperation of EU EEA Member States in the safety assessment of clinical trials. Before, clinical trials sponsors had to submit applications separately to competent authorities and ethics committees in each country to gain regulatory approval to run a clinical trial.

This regulation makes it more efficient for EU EEA States to evaluate and authorise such applications together via a newly established Clinical Trials Information System where sponsors must only submit one online application. This allows national regulators/competent authorities to collaboratively process clinical trial applications in more than one country and on behalf of other national competent authorities.

Covered Bonds: A cornerstone of long-term finance

The Covered Bonds Regulation (EU 2019/2160), concerns an integrated European framework for covered bonds, based on high-quality standards and best market practices. Covered bonds are debt obligations issued by credit institutions that offer so-called double-recourse protection to bondholders: if the issuer fails, the bondholder has a direct and preferential claim against certain earmarked assets and an ordinary claim against the issuer’s remaining assets.

Covered Bonds are a cornerstone of long-term finance for many EEA members as a key instrument to channel funds to the property market and public sector entities.

Read more about the Clinical Trials Regulation here

The next Joint Committee meeting will take place in the Berlaymont on 29 April.

Provisional texts of the JCDs

Pictures from the Standing Committee meeting on 17 March 2022

Head of EEA Policy Coordination
EEA Coordination Division
Head of Information and Communication
Secretary-General's Office

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EEA Seminar - 17 February 2022