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High-level political dialogue at the EEA Council

EU Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner took part in the political dialogue ahead of the 27th EEA Council meeting in Brussels this week. Among the topics discussed were Kosovo, the Middle East and Afghanistan.

16/05/2007 ::

MET WITH THE EFTA STATES: EU Commissioner for external relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner tok part in the political dialogue at her own initiative. Photo: Rune Bjåstad/Mission of Norway to the EU.

The foreign policy agenda  dominated the proceedings of the political dialogue, which takes place before the meetings of the EEA Council, the highest political body under the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement.

The Germany EU presidency gave a briefing on Kosovo. Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre gave a briefing on the current situation in the Middle East, while the representatives from Portugal, which will assume the EU’s rotating presidency come July, gave a briefing on Afghanistan.

Foreign relations

In his introduction, Mr. Støre emphasised the importance of the international community supporting the Palestinian unity government. The Palestinian government needs to be able to demonstrate to its people that it is making a difference, or it runs the risk of collapse. Mr. Støre added that a mechanism allowing for the normalisation of aid transfers ought to be a priority.

In the aftermath of the political dialogue, Mr. Støre told Norwegian media he was encouraged by the EU’s interest in the EEA Council as well as its attentiveness regarding Norwegian positions on such matters as climate change and energy policy.

Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU’s commissioner for external relations and the European neighbourhood policy, had asked to be present at the meeting. Ms Ferrero-Waldner referred to her meeting, one day previous, with the Palestinian minister for foreign affairs, describing it as constructive and important. She described the EU’s current policy towards the Palestinian unity government as one of “gradual engagement”.

Climate change and energy

All parties expressed their satisfaction with the conclusion of the enlargement of the EEA to cover the most recent additions to the club of EU members, Bulgaria and Romania. The EFTA countries were commended for their substantial contributions to economic and social development in the two new members of the EEA.

On climate change and energy supply,  the parties agreed on the need to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, especially those originating from energy production. Importantly, they agreed that the European Economic Area should constitute a common market for trade in emissions quotas. The inclusion of the EU’s directive on CO2 quotas into the EEA agreement will be given priority.

German deputy foreign minister Gernot Erler represented the presidency of the EU’s Council. Mr Erler gave Norway praise for its ambitious goals for emissions cuts, adding that they should be an inspiration to others.

The conclusions of the 27th EEA Council meeting can be downloaded here (PDF format).

 

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