‘Norway has longstanding and close ties with the EU. We cooperate on a broad range of policy areas through a number of agreements. The EEA Agreement is the mainstay of Norway’s European policy. For more than 20 years, it has broadened and deepened cooperation between the EU and Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein,’ said Minister for EEA and EU Affairs Elisabeth Aspaker.
A stable and predictable framework
‘It gives our companies access to the single market and ensures that they can compete on the same terms as companies in EU countries. At the same time, it offers the same benefits to EU companies and citizens entering Norway. This is crucial, as around 80 % of Norway’s exports go to the EU and more than 60 % of our imports are from EU countries.
‘The Agreement has provided a stable and predictable framework for our economic relations with EU member states, and has been important for Norway’s economy and development. It has been particularly important for the business sector and the labour market in Norway,’ Ms Aspaker added.
There is broad support among the Norwegian people and in the Storting (parliament) for Norway’s cooperation with Europe through the EEA Agreement, the Schengen Agreement and our other agreements with the EU. The Government pursues its European policy within the framework of these agreements.
How does it work?
The EEA Agreement is dynamic in character. It is continuously updated and amended to incorporate new single market legislation so as to maintain homogeneity across the EEA.
‘Developments in Europe – both major and minor – as well as various political initiatives at European level will have direct consequences for Norway. It is therefore in our interests to cooperate closely with the EU and to participate actively in policy debates at European level,’ said Ms Aspaker.
Norway does not take part in the EU decision-making process. However we can give input during the preparatory phase when the Commission is drawing up proposals for new legislation that is to be incorporated into the EEA Agreement.
This includes the right to participate in expert groups and committees under the European Commission. A considerable number of Norwegian civil servants take part in these on a regular basis. We also have around 50 seconded national experts in the Commission.
EU programmes and agencies
Norway participates in several EU programmes through the EEA Agreement or under bilateral agreements with the EU. The largest of these are Horizon 2020, Erasmus+, Galileo and Copernicus. We also participate in a number of EU agencies.
The EEA Agreement covers cooperation in a range of areas, including research and development, education, social policy, the environment, consumer protection, tourism and culture.
The Agreement does not cover the EU common agriculture and fisheries policies, the customs union, the common foreign and security policy, justice and home affairs or the monetary union.