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Minister Ştefan-Radu Oprea chaired the 51st meeting of the European Economic Area Council (Brussels, 20 May 2019)

The 51st meeting of the European Economic Area (EEA) Council was held in Brussels on 20 May 2019. The European Union was represented by the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and the meeting was chaired by Minister for Business Environment, Commerce and Entrepreneurship Ștefan-Radu Oprea (photo, right). The EEA member states from the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein) were represented by their ministers of foreign affairs. The meeting was also attended by representatives from the European Commission and from the European External Action Service.

The first part of the meeting was organised in the form of a political dialogue, during which the parties informally exchanged opinions on such common concerns as foreign and trade policy. The discussion continued in the plenary session, which adopted the statutory documents of the EEA Council. During this session, the parties addressed aspects related to the overall functioning of the EEA Agreement. It also held an orientation debate on climate change, focusing on the long-term strategies towards 2050 and the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

“The EEA Agreement represents an essential element for the proper functioning and homogeneity of the European Economic Area and in maintaining internal market integrity. We want the fastest implementation possible of EEA’s and Norway’s financial mechanisms. Romania is the second beneficiary in terms of amounts and the first signatory of the memoranda of agreement for the 2014-2021 period, to a total of EUR 500 million. This year we are celebrating 25 years after this agreement came into force, which proves its flexibility, stability and quality of its institutions”, highlighted Minister Ştefan-Radu Oprea in his speech.

In the margins of the EEA Council, the EFTA EEA states organised an anniversary seminar to celebrate the 25 years since the EEA Agreement came into force, on 1 January 2019. The event included a roundtable attended by the European Union representative, Minister Ștefan-Radu Oprea, and the three ministers of foreign affairs from Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. The discussions were centred on the positive impact of the EEA Agreement on the 31 signatory states as seen from an internal market point of view, multilateral cooperation and the promotion of common European values.

Background aspects:

 The European Economic Area Agreement (EEA) came into force on 1 January 1994, reuniting EU member states and the three EFTA EEA states – Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – into a single market, named the “Internal Market”. The EEA Agreement warrants equal rights and obligations within the Internal Market for individuals and economic operators in the EEA. It also provides for the incorporation of the EU legislation regulating the four freedoms – free movement of goods, services, people and capital – in all 31 EEA states. The EEA Council is held every semester in Brussels, at ministerial level, with the participation of the three EFTA EEA states. The EEA Council determines the general guidelines for EEA cooperation and provides its political drive.

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