Cooperation on foreign and security policy
Article | Last updated: 07/01/2022 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Norway and the EU cooperate closely in the area of foreign policy. Working together increases our ability to promote shared values and interests effectively.
Norwegian foreign policy is often very similar to EU foreign policy. We share fundamental values and often have the same objectives. We therefore work together with the EU to address many foreign policy issues. Our shared interests form the basis for our close cooperation in this area.
Norway has no formalised agreements with the EU on cooperation in the field of foreign policy, but we have developed a close and constructive working relationship. Under the EEA Agreement, a political dialogue takes place on foreign policy issues twice a year – an arrangement that has worked well since 1995. Norway’s foreign minister meets the foreign minister of the country holding the EU presidency at least once during the presidency period, i.e. once every six months. Similarly, each time a new country assumes the presidency, the Norwegian prime minister meets the head of government concerned. The Norwegian foreign minister also has meetings with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Norway and the other EEA countries also have regular meetings at expert level with the European External Action Service (EEAS) on key foreign policy issues. There are annual meetings on the Middle East, Western Balkans, OSCE, Russia and Central Asia, and Africa. Norway also has half-yearly consultations with the European External Action Service at senior official level.
When the EU agrees on common positions and declarations on current foreign policy issues, Norway is invited to align itself with these positions and declarations. In the vast majority of cases, it does so. This also includes the EU’s sanctions policy. As a policy instrument, sanctions are most effective when imposed by like-minded countries working closely together and when they have broad international support. Norway also has the opportunity to align itself with statements made by the EU in international organisations.
Cooperation on security policy
Norway and the EU share many interests in the area of security policy. Through several initiatives, the EU is taking more responsibility for European security, in a way that complements Nato and helps to promote transatlantic cooperation. This is a positive development. Norway and the EU have a long tradition of cooperating closely on security and defence policy. Norway participates in the European Defence Fund (EDF) through the EEA Agreement and has the same rights as the EU member states. Established in 2021, the EDF provides funding for projects to develop defence technology and equipment. Norway’s participation strengthens the Norwegian defence industry’s access to the European defence market. The EU has also agreed to allow Norway to participate in certain projects under the Permanent Structured Cooperation (Pesco) on security and defence, an initiative to deepen EU defence cooperation in which most EU member states take part. Norway, the US, and Canada are participating in the Pesco project on military mobility. This is important in enabling Nato Allies to move military personnel and assets across national borders in times of crisis or war.
Norway also has the opportunity to take part in the EU’s civilian and military crisis management operations, and its participation is regulated in a framework agreement from 2004. Norway has participated in three military and nine civilian operations. Norway has contributed to the Nordic Battlegroup, one of the EU Battlegroups that form part of the EU’s crisis response capacity. Since 2006, Norway has had a cooperation agreement with the European Defence Agency (EDA), and we have participated in a range of projects that will ensure deliveries for the Norwegian defence industry. Norway also takes part in a number of other EU programmes aimed at reducing shared vulnerabilities and building resilience in several sectors. Such programmes include Horizon Europe (the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation), the Galileo space programmes (satellite navigation) and Copernicus (Earth observation). In addition, Norway participates in the EU’s programme to promote the digital transition (Digital), the EU’s common information sharing environment (CISE), and the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.