The Government is today presenting its strategy for cooperation with the EU until 2017. ‘It is in our national interest to cooperate closely with the EU and to participate actively in the ongoing political processes in Europe. In order to successfully influence important decisions, Norway must be more clear and assertive, and more active in the early stages of debate on issues of European policy,’ said Minister and Chief of Staff at the Office of the Prime Minister Vidar Helgesen, who is also responsible for EEA and EU Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The strategy sets out the priorities of the Government’s European policy: increased competitiveness and greater value creation, higher quality education and research, an ambitious climate and energy policy, enhanced security, and a global approach to migration.
‘The objective of the Government’s European policy is to promote Norwegian interests and to contribute to positive developments both in Norway and in other countries. Cooperation with the EU is crucial for safeguarding Norwegian interests in our priority areas. If we are to gain support for our views, we must get involved in debates at the European level at an early stage, rather than presenting our input only when negotiations on the matter within the EU have practically been completed. This requires better coordination of Norway’s European policy,’ said Mr Helgesen.
A key instrument for implementing the strategy is the establishment of a European policy coordination committee within the Government. This committee is headed by Mr Helgesen, and relevant ministers take part according to the matters on the agenda at any given time.
‘Dialogue with Norwegian companies, regional and local authorities, the social partners, and other actors in society is essential for early-stage Norwegian influence on European policy development. European policy affects most aspects of society. Developing this policy should be a collective national effort,’ said Mr Helgesen.
The Government’s strategy for cooperation with the EU is to remain in force until the parliamentary elections in 2017. It is supplemented by the annual work programmes for EU–EEA matters.