Croatia joins the EEA

The negotiations between Norway and Croatia about Croatia’s membership in the EEA Agreement have been concluded. As part of the agreement, Norway will receive improved marked access for its fish exports to the EU and will contribute to social and economic cohesion in Croatia through the EEA Grants.

The negotiations between Norway and Croatia about Croatia’s membership in the EEA Agreement have been concluded.  As part of the agreement, Norway will receive improved marked access for its fish exports to the EU and will contribute to social and economic cohesion in Croatia through the EEA Grants.

– The expansion of the EEA Agreement to Croatia is crucial for Norwegian business. The agreement ensures market access for Norwegian businesses equal to those of EU Member States. At the same time, the extension of the EEA Grants will strengthen contact and cooperation between Norway and Croatia, says Vidar Helgesen, Minister for EEA and EU Affairs at the Office of the Prime Minister.

There will be approximately 79 million Norwegian Kroner, €9.6 million, in available funding under the EEA Grants for Croatia in the agreed period, which runs until 2016. The funds are allocated with the goal of reducing social and economic inequality and strengthening cooperation between Croatia and Norway. Negotiations regarding the allocation of funding to specific projects and programmes are currently on-going.

As a result of Croatia’s membership in the EU, the free trade agreement between Croatia and the EFTA countries has been nullified. To compensate for the loss of this agreement, Norway and the EU have agreed on a compensatory quota for processed Norwegian herring to the EU market.

– We are satisfied with the solution in terms of market access for our fish exports. By raising the duty free quota for spiced and/or vinegar cured herring we have reached a compensatory agreement which improves the market access for a product which today faces a 20 % duty from Norway to the EU, says Elisabeth Aspaker, Minister of Fisheries.

The agreement also enables Norway to implement the transitional provisions included in the EU’s membership agreement with Croatia. Most notably, this applies restrictions on the free movement of workers from Croatia for the duration of the transition period, which may be up to 7 years.

The agreement will enter into force once formally ratified by EU Member States and the EEA/EFTA countries; Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein. In Norway, the Storting will have to finally ratify the agreement.