On 5 April, EFTA House hosted a reception for representatives of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union. France started its six-month term on 1 January this year. A reception by EFTA is traditionally held for each country holding the Presidency and offers an opportunity for the EFTA States, the EFTA Secretariat and the Presidency to meet and network.
The event was hosted by EFTA Deputy Secretary-General Andri Lúthersson. “On behalf of the EFTA States, I welcome the EU Presidency to our new EFTA House. I would like to use this opportunity to commend the French for their Presidency during a highly testing time, where they have shown utmost commitment to the EEA,” he said in his opening remarks.
Deputy Ambassador and counsellor Nuscha Wieczorek represented the Liechtenstein Mission to the European Union, which is currently chairing the EFTA Standing Committee. On behalf of the EEA EFTA States she highlighted that the EEA Agreement had proven to be remarkably robust and flexible during its lifespan of more than quarter of a Century.
"We highly value the institutional set-up of the Agreement with its two-pillar structure, ensuring our sovereignty on the one hand and close cooperation with the EU in our common bodies on the other hand. The EEA EFTA States are trustworthy and reliable partners of the EU and we share the same fundamental values,” she said.
The Icelandic Mission to the EU was represented by acting deputy head of mission Ambassador Högni Kristjánsson, the Norwegian Mission was represented by deputy head of mission Per Strand Sjaastad, and the Swiss Mission by deputy head of mission Alexander Renggli.
French priorities: Recovery, Strength, and a Sense of Belonging
The French Presidency was represented by Mariana Duque, EFTA Advisor at the French Permanent Representation to the European Union. Their priorities revolve around three main ambitions: "Recovery, Strength, and a Sense of Belonging". In her remarks, Duque said she was grateful for this opportunity to meet at EFTA House, “in a friendly and informal format“.
“The French Presidency began at a sadly unique time in the European and international context: crises in our immediate neighborhood, the crisis of multilateralism, the climate crisis. War at the borders of our Union has now added to these crises, with Russia's invasion of Ukraine. This leads us to observe that the priorities we had set are now all the more relevant, especially when it comes to the need to reduce our critical dependencies, in the energy field (which requires accelerating the ecological transition) and in the area of defense, to strengthen our relations with neighboring countries and partners, and to reflect on the Europe that we wish, that is to say, one of shared cultures and values“, Duque added.
The French Presidency is “committed to continuing to strengthen the excellent relations we have with our partners in the European Economic Area.” She thanked EFTA for close collaboration on a variety of issues.
The Secretariat-General of the European Commission was represented by the acting head of unit Nicolas von Lingen.
Find high-resolution pictures from the event here.
#EFTA House yesterday hosted a reception for @Europe2022FR 🇫🇷🇪🇺— EFTA Secretariat (@EFTAsecretariat) April 6, 2022
This is an opportunity for the EFTA States 🇮🇸🇱🇮🇳🇴🇨🇭, the EFTA Secretariat, and the Presidency to meet and network
Read more ➡️ https://t.co/r8LF6OzIbb
Photos ➡️ https://t.co/PBQ4CZCb4v#PFUE2022 #EU2022FR pic.twitter.com/tFXavr3HKO
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