Article | Last updated: 05/08/2013 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Norway and the EU enjoy close cooperation on foreign policy matters. The Government follows the EU’s common foreign policy closely in order to seek coordination and cooperation in areas where this can help to safeguard Norwegian interests.
Cooperation on foreign policy
In many areas, Norway’s foreign policy and EU foreign policy are very similar. Norway and the EU countries share fundamental values and attitudes and often similar objectives. This applies to core policy areas such as human rights, our policy of engagement, climate change and the environment. As a result of this, Norway and the EU often have common interests vis-à-vis other international actors. It is therefore in Norway’s interests to cooperate closely with the EU on foreign policy.
Norway has no formalised agreements with the EU on cooperation in the field of foreign policy. Nevertheless, we enjoy close and constructive cooperation. The EEA Agreement facilitates biannual political dialogue on foreign policy matters – an arrangement that has worked well since 1995. Norway’s foreign minister meets the EU Presidency foreign minister twice a year, and there are also regular meetings between the heads of government. In addition, Norway has ad hoc meetings with the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
Norway and the EU have meetings at expert level as needed with the European External Action Service (EEAS) on key foreign policy issues. There are annual meetings on the Middle East, the Western Balkans, the 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, which, in the vast majority of cases, it does. This is a good illustration of how close Norwegian and EU foreign policy are. Norway also has the opportunity to align itself with statements made by the EU in international organisations.
Cooperation on security policy
Norway’s practical cooperation with the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) is strongest in the area of Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Here, Norway is involved in various forms of military and civilian cooperation with the EU.
Norway’s participation in EU civilian and military crisis management operations, which is regulated in a framework agreement from 2004, is important in this context. In spring 2008 and spring 2011, Norway took part in one of the EU Battlegroups, the Swedish-led Nordic Battlegroup, together with Finland, Estonia, and Ireland. Norway also has a security agreement with the EU on the exchange of classified information.
In March 2006, Norway was the first country outside the EU to enter into a cooperation agreement with the European Defence Agency (EDA), and until 2011 it was the only non-EU country to be party to an agreement of this kind. The agreement establishes an arrangement for the exchange of information, and gives Norway the opportunity to present its views on all aspects of EDA’s activities. The agreement also paves the way for Norwegian participation in EDA projects and programmes. Norway makes effective use of the cooperation agreement with EDA, and it participates in a range of relevant research programmes and projects that ensure deliveries for the Norwegian defence industry.