The Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union organized a working visit of the Council’s Working Group on the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in the Republic of San Marino on March 20-22. The visit took place at the invitation of the San Marino authorities and is in line with the existing tradition in the EFTA Working Group on working visits which take place in EFTA or non-EU West European countries during each rotating presidency of the Council of the EU.
The visit took place in a special context, as the negotiations for the conclusion of one or more Association Agreements between the European Union and the three Western European countries, Andorra, Monaco and San Marino, are close to completion. These are comprehensive agreements that allow these countries to have access to the Internal Market of the Union and take over the EU acquis in their domestic law. The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker has recently reiterated support for concluding negotiations for the framework agreement by the end of June.
EFTA Working Group’s visit to the Republic of San Marino included meetings with senior local officials such as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Political Affairs and Justice, Nicola Renzi, the Minister of Finance and Budget, Post, Transport and Economic Planning, Eva Guidi, and the Minister of Industry, Handicraft, Trade, Labour, Cooperation and Telecommunications, Andrea Zafferani. The EU delegation, headed by the President of the EFTA Working Party, Augustin Vârnav, also had discussions with the President and some members of the Permanent Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, Employers’ Associations and Trade Unions, the Italian Ambassador to San Marino, and representatives of the Central Bank of San Marino, the Financial Intelligence Agency and the Association of San Marino Banks.
An important component of the visit was the local economic and entrepreneurial dimension, highlighted through discussions and visits to the Chamber of Commerce and various local businesses. The last day of the visit was dedicated to the meeting with the Captains Regent, the two heads of state of the Republic of San Marino, Mirko Tommassoni and Luca Santolini, that were widely reflected in the local media.
The EFTA Working Group represents the forum of the Council of the EU dealing with cooperation in the context of the European Economic Area (EEA) and relations with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA – Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland).
The Working Group also coordinates the Union’s relations with Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Monaco, Andorra, San Marino and the Holy See / Vatican City, as well as with the Faeroe Islands.