Both Committee meetings were held via videoconference due to the COVID-19 situation. This is the fourth time the EEA Joint Committee has convened virtually since the outbreak of the pandemic. The EEA EFTA States and the EU have been able to ensure the continued smooth functioning of the EEA Agreement throughout the challenging situation by finding viable solutions and utilising the technological tools available.
“Among today’s decisions, the EEA EFTA States would like to highlight Decision number 83/2020 which incorporates a Regulation on the implementation and functioning of the “.eu” top-level domain name as well as the Decision number 81/2020 incorporating the Transparency Directive in the field of financial services,” Ambassador Rolf Einar Fife said, chairing the EEA EFTA side.
The Transparency Directive, along with the amendments to it that are now being incorporated, ensure transparency of information for investors. This transparency is achieved through a regular disclosure of periodic and ongoing regulated information, such as financial reports and information on major holdings of voting rights, along with the dissemination of such information to the public.
Regulation 2019/517 on the .eu top-level domain name will allow EU/EEA citizens to register for a .eu domain, regardless of where they live in the world, thereby giving more choices to users on the Internet. Young people, civil society groups and start-ups wanting to create a website and increase their online visibility are likely to benefit from the new rules. By modernising the management of the .eu top-level domain and giving users easier access to technical improvements, the aim is to better support cross-border e-Commerce in the Single Market.
Swift action commitment on COVID-19
The EFTA and EU sides also exchanged views on the current COVID-19 situation. The European External Action Service (EEAS) provided their assessment of the situation. As the health situation across Europe stabilises and confinement measures are gradually lifted, policies are now shifting away from emergency measures towards exit and economic recovery initiatives. EEA EFTA Chair Rolf Einar Fife endorsed the recent proposal by the European Commission for the European Recovery plan and highlighted how these proposals are geared towards restoring the Internal Market and pushing ahead with the green and digital transitions.
“These positive developments notwithstanding, there are still some COVID-19 measures adopted by the EU, where incorporation into the EEA Agreement is considered urgent. As you know, we remain committed to act swiftly when this occurs, and we appreciate the good cooperation with the EEAS in facilitating this,” Ambassador Fife said.
At the Joint Committee meeting, the EEAS also took note of the recent EEA EFTA Comment on Artificial Intelligence and the European Data strategy. In the Comment, the EEA EFTA States support the aim to create a single European data space underpinning the free flow of data within the EEA and call on the Commission to include the EEA EFTA States in all future activities related to the development of the European data economy.
In the final agenda item of the EEA Joint Committee, the EEA EFTA States made a statement on the ongoing exchanges between the EU and the EEA EFTA States regarding the future participation in EU programmes from 2021-2027. A meeting with DG Budget and the EEAS will take place in July.
The EFTA Standing Committee serves as a forum in which the EEA EFTA States consult one another, and they arrive at a common position before meeting with the EU in the EEA Joint Committee. The EEA Joint Committee is responsible for the management of the EEA Agreement.
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