The UK gets green light to negotiate with Norway

Prime Minister Theresa May Photo:(Matt Dunham, Pool Photo via AP, File)

EU member states agreed to say yes to letting Britain start formal Brexit negotiations with Norway, and the three other EFTA countries.


The British have no right to negotiate with third party countries like Norway as long as they are still in the EU.

The British government has therefore had to ask the EU for a special permit to start formal Brexit negotiations with the four EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

Now the EU member states have decided to give a green light.This confirms what several sources on the EU side have told NTB news.

Preliminary approval

The EU partners’ condition is that the British keep them updated along the way. As long as that happens,no member state has any objection to the negotiations being launched.

‘’This is necessary. Therefore, we have no objections.But the British must keep us informed on a regular basis,because they are still members of the EU and can not just do what they want’’ said a centrally placed EU diplomat to NTB.

The signal was approved at ambassadorial level on Wednesday last week.

The case is now expected to be knocked through without discussion at a ministerial meeting in Brussels on Tuesday morning, alternatively at a later ministerial meeting if Tuesday’s agenda changes at the last minute.

Norwegian delegation is ready

On the Norwegian side, a negotiating delegation convened before the summer.The delegation held its first meeting on June 12, and consists of experts from both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other ministries.

Norway’s goal is to establish an agreement with the British, which reflects the parts of the EU-UK divorce agreement that are relevant also for Norway.

Such an agreement will, among other things, ensure the rights of Norwegians in Britain,and the British in Norway, so that ordinary people do not get caught up in chaos when Britain expires.

Formal negotiations on a future Free Trade Agreement are expected to begin later.

More challenges

One challenge in the forthcoming negotiations is that the UK and the EU do not yet agree on the terms of their divorce.

The Norwegian side does not want to run in front of the EU, but instead prefers to wait and see what agreement Britain and the EU get in place. That means time is scarce (if the UK and the EU manage to agree at all).

Another challenge is that the EFTA countries can not have the same monitoring, control and dispute resolution system as the EU member states, as it would mean being subject to the European Commission and the European Court of Justice.

The EFTA countries must therefore find a solution with the British where these tasks are left to another authority.


© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today