Norway put on back-burner regarding Brexit
Norway is unlikely to get answers to their Brexit concerns in the near future. The EU has decided that such questions must be dealt with later.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Erna Solberg will meet both the EU President Donald Tusk and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels.
In the meetings, Norway hopes to get confirmation on what EU has already promised. This is for the EU to keep close contact with Norway regarding the Brexit negotiations and that the EU should pay particular attention to how these negotiations will affect Norway and the other two EEA countries.
On the EU side, however, it is expected that solutions for the EEA would in reality have to wait for a later stage. One important reason for this is that the EU wants to settle the ‘divorce bill’ first.
The EU’s plan is to work intensively on the divorce settlement in the first phase of the negotiations. Only when significant progress has been made in this work may they proceed to phase two.
EU negotiation boss Michel Barnier has said he hopes this can happen by the end of the year.
From a diplomatic stance, the message is that Norway is not a party to the divorce. It is only between those who have been married.
But in Phase Two there will be negotiations on transitional arrangements and a future trade agreement between the EU and the UK. In this phase, the need is likely to be greater for including the EEA and Norway.
Norway not mentioned
So far, the parties have said little about how they see the EEA countries can be woven into the agreement.
The 27 remaining countries in the EU when Britain leaves, adopted a set of guidelines for the negotiations on Saturday. There is no word here about what is going to happen to the EEA countries.
– I would had to have a lawyer by my side if I should have explained why this is and what Brexit means in purely legal for these countries.
– However, although the EEA is not a part of this process, the European Commission and the EU-Council working group for the EU Council are in touch with the EEA countries, a central EU source told NTB last week.
According to NTB, the 27 countries have not yet discussed the issue of the EEA directly. Nor has the question been raised in official Brexit documents on the British side.
Ask for opening
From Norway’s point of view, the goal is to be able to be included in the arrangements agreed between the EU and the UK for the single market.
This applies to both transitional arrangements and permanent schemes.
Here the divorce settlement between the EU and the UK will also be important. The reason is that the divorce agreement can govern the rights of the 20,000 Norwegians living in Britain today.
– Norwegian citizens, Norwegian business and our relationship with the UK are directly affected by what the EU and Britain agree on, says Solberg to NTB.
According to her, Norway will keep in touch with both sides in the hope of securing Norwegian interests in the best possible way.
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today