Jonas Gahr Støre presents Government EU policy

“A more equitable, safer and better organised Europe is the overall goal of the Government’s EU policy,” said the Norwegian Foreign Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, in the Foreign Policy Address to the Storting.

European policy was among the issues that were given the highest priority when Jonas Gahr Støre gave his address on Foreign Policy to the Norwegian Storting on 8 February.

Here follows the main elements of the part concerning the Norwegian EU affairs:

“This Government will not apply for EU membership. We will cooperate with the EU on the basis of the EEA Agreement, through participation in various agencies, through the Schengen agreement, through cooperation on foreign and security policy and through agreements in other areas such as research and culture. The Government is now reviewing experience of the functioning of the EEA and Schengen agreements.
A new action plan will enable us to implement a proactive, clear and open European policy. This will be based on a three-pronged strategy. Firstly, setting clear and timely political priorities. Secondly, focusing and streamlining our efforts and making the best possible use of the opportunities we have to exert an influence. And thirdly, taking a constructive approach to our obligations.

Through the EEA Financial Mechanisms, Norway is a share of the responsibility for social and economic development in the Baltic states and in Central Europe. During the five-year period from 2004 to 2009, more than NOK 9 billion will be made available for development projects. This large contribution will add an important new dimension to our cooperation with these countries. This is something we should take advantage of in our European policy and bilateral relations with these countries.

Norway supplied about one quarter of the gas consumed by the EU in 2003. Currently the EU imports roughly half of the energy it consumes, and it is estimated that by 2030 this share will have increased to 70 per cent. The Government will give priority to further developing the energy policy dialogue with the EU. We will maintain close contact with the EU and with the Russian G8 chairmanship ahead of the G8 summit in St. Petersburg this summer. In this context there are close links between the Government’s High North policy and its European policy.
The EU is much the largest export market for Norway’s fish, but we have repeatedly found that the framework for our exports to the EU is not good enough. For more than 15 years, we have had to put up with restrictions or threats of restrictions on our salmon exports to the EU. Just two weeks ago, the EU decided to impose antidumping measures on Norwegian salmon. In our opinion, there is no basis in the WTO rules for this decision. We have therefore decided that we will if necessary take the matter up in the WTO. However, we will not do so until we have tried every possible approach to find an amicable solution. Our goal is to ensure a stable framework for the Norwegian fish farming industry.

The salmon issue shows that the current trade policy situation leaves us in a vulnerable position. We are involved in a dispute with the EU. We are shut out of the US market. This underscores how important it is to reach agreement on stricter rules to prevent antidumping measures being imposed too easily. It is hardly surprising that this is one of Norway’s priorities in the ongoing WTO negotiations.”

For further reading on Jonas Gahr Støre’s views on the High North region, the salmon issue, foreign- and security policy, the energy dimension and other policy areas, please enter the provided link. 

Click here to view the whole speech in English.

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Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs