Brende sees the contours of a new “triangle” with Britain and the EU

Foreign Minister Brende and UK Foreign Secretary Boris JohnsonLondon.Foreign Minister Brende and UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.Photo : Johan Falnes / NTB scanpix

Norway must consider the possibility being included in the agreement the EU and Britain agree on when the British leave the EU, says Foreign Minister Børge Brende.

Brende went door to door to sell the Norway Brexit message when he visited London on Monday.

After talks with the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, the message was that the process is complicated, especially for the UK and EU , but also for Norway and the other EFTA countries Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Brende says it is too early to say which solutions are the most appropriate, but suggests, however, that Norway may be heading away from the bilateral track.

– There may be an opportunity to see this as a triangle between EFTA, EU and UK, he said.

EFTA track

The Foreign Minister is sparse with details, but says that the member countries of EFTA are now in close dialogue to coordinate  themselves. This applies in particular Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, which are part of the EU internal market through the EEA Agreement.

– We must look at ways for us to connect with the final agreement that the UK and EU arrive at. We have not drawn any conclusions, but must see which direction it takes, said Brende to the news agency NTB.

Which option is most appropriate, is entirely dependent on the direction of the negotiations between the EU and Britain once they get started.

According Brende there is no reason to believe that these negotiations will be simple.
– There is a lot at stake. This is Europe’s second largest economy.

This is an important export market for many European countries. It will not be easy to deal Brexit, and it will get complicated also for Norway, he said.

 Lit the Christmas tree

During the visit to London Brende also had meetings with Trade Minister Liam Fox, Brexit minister David Davis, European minister Alan Duncan and several other politicians lined up.

Brende and Johnson also took time to light the Christmas tree that Norway has donated to the British Foreign Ministry.

It now towers over the cars parked inside the State Department courtyard, where one has a view directly to number 10 Downing Street through the gates.

During the ceremony Johnson got to taste ‘gløgg’ , albeit alcohol free, whilst students from the Norwegian School in London created a great atmosphere with Norwegian carols .

– We have a lot in common and we share many challenges, said Brende in his address to the Assembly.

– And we will soon have even more in common, interjected Johnson.

Meanwhile just a stone’s throw away, the British High Court began debating  the question whether the government should let Parliament get to vote on the Brexit trajectory before the formal withdrawal process begins.


Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today