Bondevik and Barroso disagree on salmon issue

The salmon dispute dominated the pressconference between Norwegian Prime Minister Bondevik and Commissioner President Barroso. Bondevik strongly rejected the enforced safeguard measures against farmed salmon imports.

15/02/2006 :: “It is a question of free trade and free competition, and these measures are against these principles. We object to the statement that Norwegian salmon producers are selling salmon below the production price,” said Prime Minister Bondevik after a meeting with Commissioner President José Manuel Barroso in Brussels February 8.

Norway disputes the EU decision to enforce Safeguard measures against imports of farmed salmon and the application of a minimum import price (MIP), implemented February 7, claiming it to be unjustified and against WTO rules.

“We also intend to do our own investigation,” said Prime Minister Bondevik with reference to the Commission data on farmed salmon-producers.

The decision on whether to appeal the case to the WTO is expected within the next few days. If the safeguard measures stand they will affect Norwegian salmon exports to the EU market the next four years.

Although Prime Minister Bondevik emphasized the need to prevent this dispute from overshadowing the good relationship between Norway and the EU, he did not exclude the possibility of appealing the case.

Commissioner President Barroso explained the EU decision as an “alternative to anti-dumping procedures” and while he respected Norway’s right to appeal the issue, Barroso expressed a preference for the matter to be handled between Norway and the EU without involving the WTO. 

Other producers of farmed salmon in non-EU states will also be affected by the safeguard measures.

“We are also looking at what Chile will do when considering our WTO approach,” said the Prime Minister, stating the relationship with the EU as having an “excellent” record where Norwegian companies have been competing on an equal level with EU companies in the past. 

Commission President Barroso defended the EU decision as not being against free trade or WTO rules.

“We faced a problem in the market, therefore we were forced to make this decision,” Commissioner President Barroso added.

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Prime Minister Bondevik and Commissioner President Barroso at Press ConferencePhoto: Anne-Grethe Nilsen/EU-del