Statement at Polish-Norwegian Roundtable

Warszaw, 21 April 2015

State Secretary Ingvild Næss Stub held this statement at a Polish-Norwegian roundtable that discussed further cooperation between the two countries.

  • Thank you, Henryka, for your introductory comments and for hosting this roundtable.
  • It is a pleasure to be back in Warsaw to co-chair today’s meeting.
  • For the last two decades, Norway and Poland has been part of a process of rediscovering each other – reestablishing ties as Northern European neighbours.
  • We trade, we visit, we work, we study in steadily increasing numbers.
  • As good neighbours, we cooperate both bilaterally and on the European and international level.
  • Who would have thought 20 years back that we would be allies and partners in Nato? Part of the same internal market through the EEA Agreement? Sharing borders through Schengen? etc.
  • Today, there are more than 70 agreements with the EU that bind us together and constitute a broad platform for cooperation.
  • It is the Norwegian Government’s clear ambition to engage closely with the EU and cooperate more systematically with member states of particular importance for Norway.
  • Poland is a natural partner in this context. Poland is now playing a major role in the EU, with a stable democracy and strong economy.
    • Since entering the EU and the EEA in 2004, the contacts and cooperation between our two countries have expanded into new sectors and arenas.
  • We see new partnerships and networks in a large number of areas such as energy efficiency, environment, research and green innovation, health, culture, the justice sector etc.
  • Out of the two last decades of rediscovering each other, it is time to reflect on how we can deepen and develop our relations further.
  • The EEA and Norway Grants have proven to be an excellent instrument in this process.
  • How can we make use of the Grants to identify and intensify the Polish-Norwegian cooperation?
  • This roundtable is our point of departure, and we very much appreciate the mutual interest shown on your side in taking this process further.
  • The thematic focus today is energy/environment and research/innovation. It can serve as an example for other areas as well.
  • The format may be new to many of us – informal and unbinding in its approach.
  • However, we believe in open discussions and debate as an important instrument to think outside of the box in bringing good ideas to the table.
  • The aim is firstly to identify the potential for closer cooperation between our two countries, bilaterally and towards the EU.
  • We have a lot to build on, as we will hear later by experts on both sides who can give us more insight into how to take this forward.
  • The question now is how we can expand this further, using the partnerships already established.
  • Therefore, the roundtable should aim at identifying areas of common interest and arenas where cooperation will provide value added for both countries.
  • It will also be interesting to see more initiatives that reach beyond the Grants that also can have an impact on the European level.
  • The Norwegian Government’s five main political priorities for cooperation with the EU are:
    • increased competitiveness and growth creation
    • higher quality in education and research
    • an ambitious climate and energypolicy
    • enhanced security
    • a global approach to migration
  • In areas of mutual interest, Norway can act as a strategic partner for Poland for cooperation towards the EU and other multilateral or international organizations.
  • To take but one example: Together we are planning a high level conference in Brussels next year on the topic of labor migration.
  • This shows how we can combine mutually beneficial cooperation with positive contributions to highly relevant issues on the EU agenda.

Next period

  • As you know, the negotiations with the EU for the next period of the EEA and Norway Grants are currently progressing slowly.
  • We would like be more focused in the next period, and have proposed the following five priority areas:
    • Innovation, Research, and Education
    • Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction
    • Environment, Energy, and Climate Change
    • Culture, Civil Society, Good Governance, and Fundamental Rights and Freedoms;
    • Justice and Home Affairs.
  • In addition, we propose increased possibilities for regional and cross border cooperation, while continuing the engagement with international organisations, and the work with promoting fundamental rights and freedoms.
  • As soon as we reach an agreement in Brussels, we are ready to start the MoU process with Poland.
  • This brings us back to the purpose of today’s round table. In order to work more closely and strategically, we need to identify areas of mutual interest, and arenas for cooperation.
  • I would like to encourage you all, in an open dialogue, to bring forth your ideas as to how we can use our cooperation programs more strategically.
  • It will be interesting to hear from your experiences, as well as reflections and new ideas on how we could be strategic in our cooperation, where the Grants are one of several tools available.
  • Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your attention.
  • I would now like to leave the floor to Mr Marceli Niezgoda, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development.

Possible questions to the technical interventions

- What are important policy areas today where we can benefit from making Polish-Norwegian alliances towards the EU?

- What are examples of arenas and meeting places today where we can discuss Polish-Norwegian alliances towards the EU? What could be possible additional meeting points?

- How can we make the bilateral funds of the EEA and Norway Grants be more suitable as a tool to for bilateral cooperation? 

Concluding remarks

  • Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank you all for having participated in today’s fruitful meeting. In particular, I would like to thank you, Henryka, for having hosted the roundtable. I would also like to thank Mr Marceli Niezgoda for your interesting intervention today and for the excellent management of the Grants.
  • Our exchange today has provided some new thoughts and ideas on how we can develop our strong cooperation. We will follow up on this initiative and see how we can make use of it both during the current and future period of the EEA and Norway Grants.
  • Thank you so much for today!