Bolstering Europe’s resilience by strengthening the single market

"While the four freedoms of the single market remain at the core of our cooperation, the EEA single market should also contribute to our common security".

By Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland, Daniel Risch, Prime Minister of Liechtenstein and Jonas Gahr Støre, Prime Minister of Norway.

The European Economic Area, extending the single market and its four freedoms to Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway, has been a remarkable success story since its inception in 1994.

Now we find ourselves in a new geopolitical context. While the primary objective of the EEA remains removing obstacles in trade between the EEA States, the EU’s single market legislative agenda is increasingly influenced by urgent geopolitically strategic questions.

As we look towards the future at this historical juncture, we renew our commitment to this special partnership and the firm, and common values it is built on. The core of our strength is a robust and transparent single market that safeguards a level playing field among its members and thereby brings countless benefits to our citizens and businesses. 

The currently complex geopolitical environment has spurred an increased focus on ‘competitiveness’ and ‘resilience’ and how the single market can contribute to the EU’s economic security.

We subscribe to the importance of respecting fair-trade practices while striking a balance between open markets and ensuring the continued competitiveness of European industries.

However, enhancing economic security must not come at the cost of fragmenting the EEA single market and creating an uneven playing field. This would be detrimental to the core of our strength.

While the four freedoms of the single market remain at the core of our cooperation, the EEA single market should also contribute to our common security.

Since the launch of the EEA, our countries have been the EU’s closest and most reliable partners.

The single market has brought unprecedented growth, but its existence has also been marked by a set of fundamental crises, each one of a magnitude that had the potential to shatter European unity and undermine the four freedoms.

Instead, when crises have hit, the 30 EEA states have worked together, finding solutions that unite us closer together in a dynamic internal marketplace.

The EEA has endured successive crises, including the financial crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and global supply chain disruptions.

Following Russia’s illegal aggression against Ukraine, we have aligned our efforts to support Ukraine for as long as it takes. And we continue to have close foreign policy cooperation with the EU based on these common values and outlook. 

The world faces an unprecedented environmental crisis that demands unprecedented global cooperation. Simultaneously, the dynamics of the world economy have changed considerably in the last few years, challenging multilateral trade relations.

We support the EU’s efforts to strengthen Europe’s economic security and competitiveness. We are also strong proponents of the green and digital transition, and we actively share our outlook on issues related to economic security, climate and competitiveness.

Within our economies, we have leading innovators in developing the entire value chain of carbon capture and storage which will play an essential role in decarbonising European industry.

The EEA Agreement is the foundation on which we must continue to build as we strengthen the resilience of our single market to withstand the challenges of today and tomorrow.

The EEA Agreement is a gold standard in international cooperation. It is a model of how we can work together to establish close economic integration and free trade while ensuring a level playing field and strong protection of social and environmental standards.

While economic cooperation lies at the core of the EEA Agreement, it is also based on values that are even more relevant today than they were when the Agreement was negotiated in the nineties.

For us, peaceful relations, democracy, the rule of law, and human rights, including gender equality, remain at the very core of our dynamic cooperation with the EU.

Through the EEA cooperation, we manifest our unwavering commitment to a democratic and free Europe.