The EFTA Parliamentary Committee is a forum for parliamentarians from the four Member States: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. It provides the Association with a valuable link to political life in each EFTA country and, through its cooperation with parliamentarians in the European Union, serves as a link between political life in EFTA and the EU.
History and structure
Informal exchanges of views between parliamentarians from the different EFTA countries started in 1963. These meetings were formalised in 1977, when the Committee of Members of Parliament of the EFTA Countries (CMP) was founded.
Since 1981, the Committee has held regular meetings with Members of the European Parliament. These relations were institutionalised through the formation of the EEA Joint Parliamentary Committee (EEA JPC) when the EEA Agreement entered into force in 1994.
This means that since the entry into force of the EEA Agreement, there have in fact been two EFTA Parliamentary Committees: the CMP, which comprises all four Member States and deals with matters related to third countries outside the EU, and the Committee of Members of Parliament of the EFTA States (MPS), which deals with EEA-related matters and forms the EFTA side of the EEA JPC. Switzerland has observer status in the MPS.
The EFTA Parliamentary Committee usually holds six meetings a year. It focuses on the functioning of the EEA, political developments in the EU and their impact on the EEA, and developments in EFTA’s free trade agreements (FTAs) and current trade negotiations. In addition to these regular meetings, each year a delegation from the Committee visits one or more third countries where EFTA is currently negotiating or updating an FTA. The aim of these visits is to support the work of the EFTA’s national governments and to add a parliamentary dimension to these negotiation processes.
The EFTA Parliamentary Committee also follows other aspects of free trade, such as WTO multilateral framework negotiations and human rights aspects and environmental policies in FTAs. In 2008, the Committee obtained observer status in the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO, organised by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the European Parliament.
The EFTA Parliamentary Committee also meets twice a year with the EFTA Consultative Committee, ensuring an exchange of views between parliamentarians and social partners in the Member States on topical issues related to EFTA’s work.
Relations with the European Parliament
The EEA Joint Parliamentary Committee (EEA JPC) is composed of Members of the European Parliament and parliamentarians from the EEA EFTA States. Its task is to contribute to a better understanding between the EU and the EEA EFTA States in the fields covered by the EEA Agreement. The focus of the EEA JPC is to scrutinise developments in the EU and their potential impact on the EEA Agreement, and its members have the right to put oral and written questions to the representatives of the EEA Council and the EEA Joint Committee. The EEA JPC meets twice a year, once in one of the three EEA EFTA States and once at the European Parliament.
As a consultative body, the EEA JPC expresses its views on any matter of relevance to the EEA through resolution texts. It also addresses topical issues with European Commissioners and Commission representatives, with the aim of raising the profile of matters in which the EEA EFTA States have a high interest.
Members of the EFTA Parliamentary Committee (January 2019)
Mr Smári McCarthy, Pirate Party (Delegation Chair)
Ms Hanna Katrín Friðriksson, Liberal Reform
Ms Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdóttir, Left-Green Movement
Mr Jón Gunnarsson, Independence Party
Mr Brynjar Níelsson, Independence Party
Ms Halldóra Mogensen, Pirate Party
Mr Þorsteinn Víglundsson, Reform Party
Mr Andrés Ingi Jónsson, Left-Green Movement
Mr Páll Magnússon, Independence Party
Mr Vilhjálmur Árnason, Independence Party
Mr Elfried Hasler, Progressive Citizens' Party (Delegation Chair)
Mr Harry Quaderer, Independent
Mr Manfred Kaufmann, Patriotic Union
Mr Michael Ospelt, Progressive Citizens' Party
Mr Svein Roald Hansen, Labour Party (CMP/MPS Chair)
Ms Heidi Nordby Lunde, Conservative Party
Ms Rigmor Aasrud, Labour Party
Ms Ingunn Foss, Conservative Party
Mr Morten Ørsal Johansen, Progress Party
Mr Sigbjørn Gjelsvik, Centre Party
Mr Espen Barth Eide, Labour Party
Mr Fredric Holen Bjørdal, Labour Party
Ms Asunn Lyngedal, Labour Party
Mr Tage Pettersen, Conservative Party
Ms Margunn Ebbesen, Conservative Party
Mr Terje Halleland, Progress Party
Mr Per Olaf Lundteigen, Centre Party
Mr Steinar Reiten, Christian Democratic Party
Mr Carl-Erik Grimstad, Liberal Party
Ms Solfrid Lerbrekk, Socialist Left Party
Swiss delegation (observers in the MPS)
Mr Eric Nussbaumer, Social Democratic Party (Delegation Chair)
Mr Benedikt Würth, Christian Democratic Party
Mr Thomas Aeschi, Swiss People's Party
Mr Hannes Germann, Swiss People's Party
Mr Hans-Peter Portmann, FDP. The Liberals
Mr Thomas Matter, Swiss People's Party
Ms Elisabeth Schneider-Schneiter, Christian Democratic Party
Mr Nicolas Walder, Green Party
Mr Damian Műller, FDP. The Liberals
Mr Carlo Sommaruga, Social Democratic Party