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Norway signs Brexit agreement with the UK

Today, Norway signed an agreement with the UK relating to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Economic Area (EEA) as a result of Brexit.

Umin signerer Brexit-avtale med Storbritannia
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Ine Eriksen Søreide, signed the agreement between Norway and the UK. Credit: Trude Måseide, MFA

The agreement safeguards the acquired rights of Norwegian and UK citizens in our two countries. Even though the UK will leave the EU at midnight on Friday 31 January, the relationship between Norway and the UK will not change until the end of the transition period. The transition period will last until 31 December 2020. Brexit will not affect Norway’s relationship with the UK in 2020.

‘Norway and the UK are close allies and partners. Our two countries have a long history of close ties and cooperation. In dealing with Brexit, the Government’s most important tasks are to ensure that the EEA cooperation continues to function well and to maintain close and constructive cooperation with the UK.  Now that Brexit is becoming a reality, it is to our advantage that there is a withdrawal agreement in place. I am confident that the agreement we have signed today will safeguard Norwegian interests and the rights of Norwegian citizens,’ said Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

At midnight on Friday 31 January, the UK will leave the EU. This will happen on the basis of the withdrawal agreement reached by the EU and the UK. Norway, together with Iceland and Liechtenstein, has negotiated a separate agreement with the UK, which covers the parts of the withdrawal agreement between the EU and the UK that are also relevant for us. Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide signed the agreement on behalf of Norway in London today.

Transition period

From 1 February 2020, the UK will no longer be a member of the EU, but a transition period has been agreed that will last until the end of 2020. During this period, the UK will be treated as if it were still a member of the EU and EEA. This means that our relationship with the UK, and the situation for Norwegian citizens and businesses, will remain unchanged in 2020. Business activity, various types of approval and authorisation, freedom of movement and other activities that took place under EEA rules before Brexit will continue as before throughout the transition period.

The transition period will last from 1 February to 31 December 2020, with the possibility of an extension if the EU and the UK agree to this. In March last year, the Storting (Norwegian parliament) adopted an act that makes the transition period applicable to Norway too. This act will enter into force on 1 February. 

Citizens’ rights will be safeguarded

‘Norway and the UK have a shared interest in maintaining their close and mutually beneficial relationship. The agreement we have signed today ensures that Norwegian citizens who have acquired rights in the UK will retain these rights after the transition period has come to an end. The same will apply to UK citizens in the EEA EFTA countries, including Norway. From the outset, it has been a shared aim of the UK and Norway to ensure that both Norwegians who have chosen to settle in the UK and Britons who have chosen to settle in Norway are able to continue their lives as before, even after Brexit,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said. 

The UK authorities have introduced a system for registering EU/EEA citizens in the UK – the EU Settlement Scheme. Under the scheme, EU/EEA citizens, including Norwegian citizens, can apply to retain their rights of residence in the UK after 1 January 2021. Norway will establish a separate application procedure for UK citizens who move to Norway before 31 December 2020.

The agreement between Norway and the UK covers a number of areas including:

  • The right to continue to reside, work and set up businesses for people who are exercising these rights before the transition period comes to an end.
  • Rules on continued acceptance of professional qualifications.
  • Rules on coordination of social security benefits, including health care benefits.

The agreement also clarifies what will happen to processes started before the transition period comes to an end, but that will continue or be completed after the end of the transition period. This includes for example processes involving trade in goods, customs procedures, patent and copyright protection, public procurement, police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, exchange of information on personal data and the protection of personal data that has already been exchanged.

The UK is Norway’s most important bilateral trading partner.

‘During the transition period, trade between Norway and the UK will continue as before. Our aim is to maintain the close economic relationship we have with the UK today. We will do everything in our power to put in place a free trade agreement with the UK, but Norwegian companies may face increased trade barriers when the UK leaves the single market on 1 January 2021,’ said Minister of Trade and Industry Iselin Nybø. 

During the transition period, trade in seafood will, for all practical purposes, continue as before. The fisheries agreements Norway has with the EU, which also include the UK, will continue to apply until the end of 2020.   
‘This means that both trade in seafood and fisheries cooperation with the UK will continue as before. From next year, we will need to put in place new fisheries agreements with the EU and the UK. Our dialogue with the EU and the UK on these issues is excellent, and I will do my part to maintain this close cooperation,’ said Minister of Fisheries and Seafood Geir Inge Sivertsen.

After 31 January, Norway and the UK will begin negotiations on the future relationship between the two countries after the transition period. 

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