Prime Minister Erna Solberg (H) believes that Norway should collaborate with Iceland and Liechtenstein in the negotiations for an agreement with the UK after Brexit.
Solberg met the prime ministers of the other two EEA countries on Monday, the first working day after the UK formally withdrew from the EU and thus also the EEA agreement. The three agree that it would be best to collaborate closely when negotiating a new trade agreement with the United Kingdom.
– It will be very positive to do so. We have not made any government decision yet, but it is probably of the opinion that we can get the most out of the negotiations if we negotiate together, Solberg tells NTB.
She points out that Norway and Iceland have many common interests, while Liechtenstein is particularly concerned about financial services.
“We have been waiting to negotiate jointly, and we know where we have challenges and that we must respect the specific needs of the individual countries,” says Solberg.
Iceland’s Katrín Jakobsdóttir and Liechtenstein’s Adrian Hasler also emphasised the desire for joint negotiations during a press conference after the three prime ministers had a breakfast meeting in Oslo.
Believe in close cooperation
– I think we will see that our three countries will work closely together to establish agreements with the UK, whilst the UK will enter into an agreement with the EU, says Katrin Jakobsdóttir.
She points out that the UK is a very important trading partner for Iceland as well as for Norway.
– I think it is essential that the three EEA countries start discussions on possible schemes and content for a future agreement with the UK, Hasler said.
Brexit also affects the management of the fisheries in the North Sea, which is not part of the EEA agreement. The fact that the UK is no longer part of the EU will affect the negotiations on fishing quotas for the next year.
– The challenge is that until the EU and the UK have decided how much of today’s EU quotas are British, and how much stays with the EU, it is difficult to sit down to negotiate. We need to have negotiating partners who know what they can negotiate with, says Solberg.
Norway has held annual fisheries negotiations with the EU, Russia, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland. The authorities must now also negotiate with the United Kingdom.
Last week, Norway and the United Kingdom entered into a separate agreement that, among other things, secures the rights of Norwegian citizens in the United Kingdom and Britons in Norway during a transitional period until new agreements are negotiated. The agreement also ensures that the flow of goods, customs, police cooperation and public procurement remain as it is today, basically until December 2020.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today