Norway's relation with the EU

Published under: Solberg's Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Storting, Oslo 16 March 2015

State Secretary Ingvild Næss Stub's speech at a meeting with the European Parliament in Oslo on 16 March 2015.

General remarks:

Thank you for the invitation. The Norwegian Government gives a high priority to Norway´s relations with Europe and the EU, and it has a strong emphasis on our relation with the European Parliament.

I would describe he overall relationship between Norway and the European Union as excellent. Norway is cooperating closely with the EU on almost all policy areas, and its rules and legislation is more integrated with the EU acquis than any other non-member state [the most integrated outsider]

From time to time, some challenges have occured. This has mainly been due to political and institutional challenges that need to be addressed by both sides. However, solutions have always been found.

The government's ambitions:

- Active European policy

- Strategic early engagement

- Correct/timely implementation

The Government's European Policy/Strategy:

Priorities: Competitiveness/growth. Research/education. Climate/energy. Security. Migration. Tools: Political coordination (Minister for EU/EEA-affairs, government's European policy committee). Openness. Knowledge.

We follow with keen interest key policy developments and priorities under the new Commission, as well as the strategic priorities and discussion in the European Council.

In some key areas of priority for the new Commission, Norway has already shared its views and ideas informally with relevant stakeholders in the EU. This has been the case with the proposals for an energy union as well as with the EU digital agenda and the plan to create a digital single market.

Example 1: Energy Union:

The partnership between Norway and the EU in the energy field is of mutual benefit. Norway is a stable key supplier of energy to the EU, and the EU is our largest market. We have established an active and constructive political energy dialogue with the European Commission.

Vice President Sefcovic has recently presented a proposal for an EU Energy Union strategy. We are glad to see that the Commission wants to develop the energy partnership with Norway further. We look forward to cooperating even closer with the EU in the energy field, and to develop our partnership in the years to come.

Example 2: The Digital Single Market:

Norway want to take active part in the development of a true Digital Single Market in Europe. We state our preliminary views and proposals in a non-paper that already has been presented to several key EU decision makers, including Commissioner Oettinger. I would of course be happy to share it with you as well after our general discussions.

Foreign Policy:

We have regular consultations and frequent political contact with the EU on all matters of international significance. This complements our close bilateral relations with the EU Members States.

We have developed a very close cooperation on the situation in the Middle East (ref: Norway's role in the AHLC), and together with the EU we have decided to increase our engagement in the Sahel and in the Western Mediterranean/North Africa.

Norway's geographical position naturally implicates a particular emphasis on relations with Russia – still worth noting that Norway nevertheless is at one with the EU regarding the consequences of the Ukraine crisis

Some challenging processes/issues:

New Financial Mechanisms:

Negotiations about new EEA and Norway financial mechanisms have been ongoing since January 2014. The EFTA side base the negotiations on the EU Cohesion Fund criteria, which has been the basis for the EEA and Norway Grants since 1994. Our offer is based on continuation and adjustment from the previous grant period, from 2009-2014.

We negotiate market access for fish in parallel with the financial mechanisms. To us, a satisfactory and flexible solution with regard to market access for fish is a prerequisite for an overall and balanced agreement on the financial mechanisms.

Trade in agricultural products:

EU and Norway also entered into a new round of negotiations on trade in basic agricultural products in February 2015. We look forward to a constructive negotiation process.

Regarding cheese and meat, the government's position is clear. We will take no new protective measures. However, this government is a minority government and for the time being, there is no majority in our Parliament to change the decision taken by the previous government.

TTIP:

We welcome the ongoing negotiations between the EU and the US towards an ambitious transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP). The EU and the USA are our two most important trading partners. In addition, Norway our EEA/EFTA partners are already members of the EU Internal Market through the EEA agreement. We are therefore in a unique relation to the TTIP negotiations.

If concluded, TTIP will affect a wide range of economic sectors in the EEA and it is important to us that an agreement would not undermine our role as a close partner when the Commission is preparing new rules and regulations. The Commission ought to bear in mind the existing regulatory cooperation established under the EEA Agreement when negotiating regulatory cooperation for the TTIP.

Together with our EFTA partners, we believe to have a clear and legitimate interest to be adequately informed about the negotiations progress and which sectors and rules of the Internal Market that will be affected by TTIP. Norway is particularly interested in how mutual recognition of standards and regulations will be regulated TTIP, not least in the area of trade in goods.

Concluding remarks:

We have a strong emphasis on our relation with the European Parliament in our dialogue with the EU on these and other issues. We will make sure to include relevant Members and Committees in our coming discussions on concrete issues and proposals.

I thank you for your attention and I look forward to a fruitful and interested discussion on these and other topics regarding Norway's relation with the EU.