About the EEA Agreement

Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt's statement on the EEA Agreement at the EEA Council meeting in Brussels 23 May.

Mr. Chairman,

At our meeting last November, we all spoke about our common fight against the pandemic. While that fight is not forgotten, this time we see a fight for the very survival of a neighbour right outside our doorstep.

Our continent is changing before our eyes. Norway and the other EEA EFTA states stand together with the European Union in making every effort we can to help Ukraine defend itself.

We stand together with the EU and other countries to ensure that the sanctions are strong and effective. We welcome Ukrainan refugees. We provide humanitarian assistance. We contribute through the EU's Civil Protection Mechanism. And we provide military equipment.

Let me also underline that Norway will contribute substantially to the reconstruction efforts.

European unity in the face of Russia's war of aggression is vital. Norway’s relationship with the EU remains rock solid.  We are a close partner to the EU through the EEA Agreement.  The integrity of the Single Market is a priority for us. Not least in this time of conflict. We must safeguard the Single Market. And the values upon which it is built.

In addition, EU cooperation on security and defence has gradually been strengthened in recent years. Norway has taken steps to be able to participate in the EU’s new initiatives in this area. One such initiative is the European Defence Fund, in which we take part through the EEA Agreement.

Mr. Chairman,

Let me say a few words on the EEA and Norway Grants. These grants contribute to reducing social and economic disparities in Europe. But they also play their role in promoting our common values and protecting space for civil society. The Single Market can only function on the basis of Rule of Law and independent courts.

The war in Ukraine is a reminder to all of us that we cannot take democracy or peace for granted. We believe a stronger commitment to our common values is needed.

We will soon start negotiations on a new period of the EEA Financial Mechanisms. The main goals for a new period should be clear: reduce economic and social disparities and strengthen bilateral relations. It is also important that the solid implementation and management structures are maintained.

Good governance must be given high priority. Promoting and protecting rule of law and democracy will be important to Norway also in a new period.

Parallel negotiations will take place on market access for fish and seafood. The EU is dependent on imports of safe, healthy, traceable and sustainably produced seafood from Norway. Both to supply the EU’s processing industry and to satisfy the consumer’s demand for seafood.

This dependency is currently not properly reflected. Today’s tariff regime imposes a burden on importers and exporters. We expect the negotiations will lead to improvements in the trade regime for seafood.

Mr. Chairman,

For 28 years, the EEA Agreement has been the main platform for Norway’s relations with the EU. Our commitment to the agreement is strong and solid. 

Ten years ago, we made a review of Norway’s relations with the EU. It gave us a good understanding about the EEA and what it means to Norway. It also showed that the EEA cooperation benefits both the EU and the EEA EFTA states.

Since then, the EU and the EEA have developed. The world around us has changed. We have faced new challenges together. The government will therefore conduct a new review. It will focus on the development of the EEA over the last decade.

As in 2012, the review will be conducted by an independent group of experts. This group has now been established. It will submit its report to the government by the end of 2023.

Thank you