Covid-19: Joint Statement of the Members of the EEA Council (18 November 2020)
Covid-19: The members of the EEA Council held a video conference on 18 November 2020 at the initiative of Ms Katrin Eggenberger, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein.
The members of the EEA Council discussed the overall functioning of the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA Agreement), and held an orientation debate on Europe’s Digital Future.
Following the videoconference, the members of the EEA Council adopted the following joint statement:
We acknowledge the far-reaching effects of the COVID-19 crisis and stress the need to meet this unprecedented challenge in a spirit of solidarity.
Furthermore, we welcome the particularly close cooperation between the EU and the EEA EFTA States.
We highlight the joint efforts on free movement of persons, border management and the repatriation of nationals stranded abroad, on the acquisition of medicines, medical and protective equipment, as well as on the research and development of a vaccine.
Reaffirming the central role of the EEA Agreement in closely linking our societies and economies, we continue to stress the need for such close cooperation and the importance of considering how to help alleviate the serious socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic through all available instruments.
Ensuring the integrity of the Internal Market and a smooth functioning of the EEA Agreement remain essential priorities in this context.
Cooperation in the EEA
We confirm our support for the EEA Agreement as the continued basis for future relations between the EU and the EEA EFTA States, and stress the importance of the two-pillar structure of the EEA Agreement.
We recognise the positive contributions made by the EEA EFTA States to the decision-shaping process of EEA-relevant EU legislation and programmes through their participation in the committees, expert groups, studies and agencies, as well as through the submission of EEA EFTA Comments.
Furthermore, we stress the positive contribution of the EFTA Surveillance Authority and of the European Commission in monitoring the compliance with the EEA Agreement in all its Member States.
We underline the importance of inviting EEA EFTA Ministers to informal EU Ministerial meetings and Ministerial conferences, organised by the Presidency, relevant to EEA EFTA participation in the Internal Market and express our appreciation to the current German and incoming Portuguese Presidencies for the continuation of this practice.
Recognising the important role of parliamentary cooperation and cooperation between economic and social partners, we note the Resolution of the EEA Joint Parliamentary Committee adopted at its meeting on 16 November on the Annual Report of the EEA Joint Committee on the Functioning of the EEA Agreement in 2019 and the Resolutions of the EEA Consultative Committee adopted at its meeting on 18 September 2020 on the Green Deal, and on the Industrial Strategy.
We agree on the need to further strengthen communication efforts on the EEA Agreement and on its benefits for citizens and businesses.
Emphasising that greater knowledge of the EEA Agreement throughout the EEA at all levels is in the interest of all Contracting Parties, we urge the EU and the EEA EFTA States to ensure that information on the EEA Agreement is made readily and easily available.
We express concerns regarding the current challenges in international trade at a time where global supply chains are under strain due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We reconfirm our commitment to open and fair trade and rule-based trade relations. We reiterate our support for the modernisation of the World Trade Organisation in order to adapt it to the rapidly changing economy and to ensure a level playing field on world markets.