Norway, the EEA Agreement and Norway’s other agreements with the EU
Last updated: 15.10.2012 //
The Norwegian Government submitted 12 October 2012 a white paper to the Storting on the EEA Agreement and Norway’s other agreements with the EU. The white paper is now available in English.
NEW: Full English version of the white paper (PDF, September 2013)
The main message in the white paper:
- The Agreement on the European Economic Area (the EEA Agreement) entered into force in 1994. It extends the EU’s internal market to the three EEA EFTA states Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. This means that companies and economic operators in the EU as well as in the EEA EFTA countries have equal access to the internal market.
- The Agreement also assures EEA citizens the opportunity to live, work, and study in all 30 EEA states. The large number of labour immigrants that have arrived in Norway from other EEA countries in recent years illustrates the importance and mutual benefit of a common labour market within the European Economic Area.
- The parties to the EEA Agreement have found the Agreement to be mutually beneficial. In the light of the close economic relations between the EU and the EEA EFTA states, it is in the interest of all parties to maintain and further develop the EEA Agreement.
- There are close links between Norway and the EU countries due to historical and cultural ties, geographical proximity, common values and a shared commitment to the rule of law and human rights. The EEA Agreement is, and will continue to be, the basis of Norway’s European policy. The Agreement has been in force for almost 19 years, and this period has mostly been one of stability and economic growth.
- Norway wishes to continue to play an active part in further developing the internal market, in accordance with the objectives set out in the Europe 2020 strategy and the Single Market Act I and Single Market Act II. The internal market is an important tool for stimulating new economic growth in Europe at a time when the continent is suffering from the effects of the global financial crisis.
- So far, Norway has not been severely affected by the crisis in Europe. However, it is in the interests of all countries that the crisis is alleviated, and that economic and financial stability in Europe is restored. Hence Norway is contributing extensively to the IMF’s international efforts, both in Europe and elsewhere. In 2012, Norway has helped to boost the lending capacity of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by providing a bilateral loan of EUR 7 billion.
- Norway is a long term solidarity partner with the EU. Together with Iceland and Liechtenstein Norway provide substantial funding for reducing economic and social disparities in EU countries. Since 1994, the EEA EFTA countries have provided a total of EUR 3.27 billion through various grant mechanisms, of which EUR 1.78 billion has been allocated to 15 of the EU member states for the period 2009–2014.
- Within the framework of the EEA Agreement, Norway will emphasize policy areas that are of particular importance to Norway, and in which Norway has expertise and experience to contribute in EU policy shaping processes. Examples of such areas are the fields of energy and the environment.
- In 2011 12.9 % of all oil imports to the EU and 31% of all gas imports to the EU came from Norway. Norway participates fully in the internal energy market, and EU energy legislation is important for Norway both as an exporter of energy and as a cooperating partner on renewable energy. Norway will continue its close cooperation with the EU on environmental policy, particularly in the area of climate change and pollution.
- Experience shows that the most competitive countries in Europe are those who are able to combine favourable conditions for companies with high standards in the working life and constructive dialogue with the social partners. This is essential for the further development of the internal market.
- The EEA Agreement is effective and has proved to function well since its entering into force. However, dynamic developments in the EU in recent years, pose some new challenges for a continued effective, robust and dynamic cooperation within the EEA. New areas of cooperation have emerged and the EU has implemented important institutional as well as treaty reforms.
- These developments have an impact on the EEA cooperation. It is important to secure the opportunity for the EFTA countries to participate in EU agencies, supervisory bodies and other specialist bodies that play an increasingly important role in the development of the internal market. This should be secured in a way that is consistent with the structure and principles of the EEA Agreement. Ensuring uniform legislation of the highest possible standard throughout the European Economic Area is in the interest of both parties.
- The EEA Agreement establishes a particularly close cooperation between Norway, the other EEA EFTA countries and the EU. The cooperation is based on the principle of equal treatment. This is a natural consequence of the extensive rights and duties the EEA Agreement confers on its parties. It is crucial that the principle of equal treatment is safeguarded, in line with the intentions and purpose of the EEA Agreement.
- EU institutions and member states have repeatedly expressed their satisfaction with the EEA Agreement and other agreements between the EU and Norway. Through the EEA Agreement the EU enjoys orderly and predictable relations with Norway, a key trade partner and important supplier of energy, seafood, capital, maritime transport services, environmentally sound solutions, etc. All parties to the EEA have a clear interest in maintaining these good relations.
- Norway and the EU have also developed cooperation and agreements in areas outside the framework of the EEA Agreement. This applies to the area of justice and home affairs, as well as to foreign policy and security policy issues.
- Norway will continue to build on the Schengen cooperation and its other agreements with the EU in the field of justice and home affairs. Close cooperation in this field is essential due to common challenges relating to transnational crime and migration.
- Norway and the EU enjoy close cooperation at the international level based on shared basic attitudes and values. The Norwegian authorities intend to further develop our close foreign and security policy cooperation with the EU in areas of mutual interest, and in fields where we together can make an effective contribution to international cooperation. Relevant areas for such further cooperation may be democracy building and human rights, climate change and the environment, international development assistance and efforts to promote peace and reconciliation.