«Norway needs more cooperation with the EU»

Minister Elisabeth Aspaker and Norway's ambassador to the EU, Oda Helen Sletnes. Photo: Simon Johannsson.Minister Elisabeth Aspaker and Norway’s ambassador to the EU, Oda Helen Sletnes. Photo: Simon Johannsson

Last updated: 31.01.2016 // Recently appointed Minister of EEA and EU Affairs, Elisabeth Aspaker, on 26-27 January visited the capital of the EU to get more insight into how Norwegian stakeholders and the EEA EFTA institutions are working to maintain the broad collaboration between Norway and the EU.

“We need more, not less cooperation with the EU on the common challenges facing Europe”, said Aspaker.

Aspaker also being the Minister of Nordic Cooperation, stressed the importance of closer cooperation between the Nordic non-EU and EU-member states.

“We must aim for joint Nordic initiatives in areas where we have common interests. And we should keep in mind that perhaps more doors into the EU are open to Norway that what we tend to think. Norway has a lot to contribute with, and chances are good that our contributions will be welcomed”, said Aspaker.

During her visit, Minister Aspaker was briefed on a number of policy areas by the counsellors at the Norwegian delegation to the EU, including on migration, business and economy, climate change and energy. 

Minister Aspaker met with representatives from the Norwegian regional offices in Brussels, which aim to look after the public and business interests of Norwegian regions, and which aim to actively engage in the EEA Agreement and broader EU cooperation. Aspaker also met with Norwegian businesses. She learned about the challenges that Norwegian businesses face in the EU, and how they engage in the European development agenda.  

Minister Aspaker also met with the institutions that are responsible for maintaining the EEA Agreement and manage the EEA and Norway grants, including the EFTA Secretariate, the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) and the Financial Mechanism Office (FMO).

Negotiations on the new financial contributions from the three EEA EFTA States Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein to social and economic development in Europe, were concluded in July 2015, and involves Norwegian contributions of more than NOK 3 billion from 2016 to 2021. The agreement is now going through an internal decision-making process in the EU, and will presumably be signed between the EU and EEA EFTA States in the first half of 2016.

“My most important mission in 2016 is to finalize the agreement on the EEA and Norway grants with the EU, and to start negotiations with the 15 beneficiary countries on how the grants will be spent. The EEA and Norway grants will among other things be an important contribution to deal with challenges related to migration, and could also be an important catalyst in the climate change and energy area following the global climate deal from COP21 in December 2015”, said Minister Aspaker.

Source: Wera Helstrøm   |   Bookmark and Share