No one asks what Norway means when the EU adopts new regulations

No one asks what Norway means when the EU adopts new regulations

(This discussion post Originally published on Everythingworks in conjunction with the ABC nyhator).

For three decades, the EEA has delivered economic growth through increased trade and cooperation in the EU's internal market. Today we face a different, bigger and more political EU. Trade and economics have a clear security policy value. Restarting the internal market will certainly be one of the two new statements expected from former European Central Bank president Mario Draghi to make EU countries' economies stronger. and Professor Enrico Letta.

Who asks what is Norway?

The EEA is not a natural disaster

Altinget.no Norway's first purely political online newspaper. With 28 major media outlets in Denmark and 11 media outlets in Sweden, Altinget is already an established media company in the Nordics. Its aim is to increase understanding of national and European politics through high-quality mainstream journalism – with a neutral starting point.

The EEA inquiry report submitted on 11 April confirms some of the weaknesses of those of us who have worked with the EEA administration for decades. The so-called “backlog” of new EU legislation not incorporated into the EEA means that regulations in the EU and Norway are increasingly fragmented. A large set of regulations will protect EU countries in the face of new threats, primarily climate and security. This is sometimes more than Norwegian ministries and directorates can carry. Norway rarely has the ability to shape input and views in a timely manner to influence EU processes in a direction that protects Norwegian concerns. New EU initiatives affecting many sectors may be overlooked. Silo thinking at home makes it more difficult to look after Norwegian interests. Many are demanding clear political direction. There may be some doubt as to what the Norwegian position is, and it is not clear which considerations should be taken into account in particular cases.

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But the EEA is not a natural disaster. Much can be solved with better coordination, good practices, political anchoring, capacity and willingness to set priorities. Good strategic documents, and more detailed and well-packaged work plans, would contribute to greater transparency about the EEA process from ministries and directorates. Most of these are described in the EEA investigation.

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Weakening prospects for Norwegian interests

Since the signing of the EEA Agreement, the EU has made four amendments to the EU Treaties and adopted the Treaty on Fundamental Rights. The European Union has grown from 12 to 27 member states. Several rounds of demanding crisis management have left their mark on cooperation in Brussels. Close coordination among like-minded people is necessary to protect common interests. Since my time as ambassador in Brussels and Paris, I have seen the added value of daily cooperation between EU capitals. It continues on small and large issues that create compromises in Brussels.

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The process leading to the final decision in the EU places high demands on Norway's ability and willingness to follow through the EEA.

The process leading to the final decision in the EU places high demands on Norway's ability and willingness to follow through the EEA. The large scope of the new regulations, which take into account multiple considerations and therefore affect multiple sectors, is challenging. Opportunities to protect Norway's interests and participate in the early stages of regulatory and policy development weaken as deadlines tighten and the number of pages to read, understand, review and translate increases.

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The EEA does not grant Norway the EU's political cooperation, but the agreement should give experts from the EFTA side the opportunity to comment on the committee as new regulations are drawn up. Expert cooperation still has its place in the EU. But in important areas, policy development takes place in other forums and formats without the participation of third countries. When it comes to informal meeting places, being invited to Norway is definitely not a thing. Alliances and coalitions of special interests help short-circuit processes for participation in Norway. It is advantageous for Norwegian business to participate in European interest institutions, thereby influencing policy and regulation through its channels, but this should not come as a substitute for processes open to the participation of Norwegian authorities.

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Has budgetary implications

New EU policy and new regulations have consequences for public and private budgets. Users of the regulations are found in local administration as in local business. Norwegian interests should also be given the opportunity to assess the potential consequences of new projects while weighing the consequences with an overall view. In principle, the EU should also seek views from users and decision makers in the EEA before making their decision. It is too late for Norwegian authorities to take a position on whether new regulations should be added to the EEA agreement until a final decision is made in the EU.

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It is undoubtedly more demanding that those outside the negotiations in Brussels seek input and views on EU processes. Woolly compromise proposals are difficult to understand and interpret. Bringing accurate input into processes that are highly political in nature is not easy. As a former EU colleague put it: No one asks what Norway means when the EU adopts new regulations.

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The EEA Agreement: A Fragile Construction

The EEA Agreement can be assessed in several ways: it has proven to be flexible and robust enough to accommodate solutions that serve Norway well and make it an integral part of the internal market. The EEA is a relief because there really is no alternative to relying on European experts and solutions in areas where there is no ability or capacity to solve problems at the national level.

At the same time, the EEA today remains a fragile construct. Thirty years ago, solutions were negotiated to ensure a balanced distribution of rights and obligations between contracting parties in the EEA. EU enlargements since 2004, the deepening and expansion of EU cooperation over the last decade, and the development towards greater regulation of important markets in finance, energy and digital services have made finding the good significantly more demanding, but not yet impossible. Settlements within the EEA. Will it still be like this?

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Added to this are two other intractable challenges based on the EEA Agreement: democracy and co-determination, security and solidarity.

A democratic problem

Norway has joined the European Union through the EEA. New agreements such as the Green Alliance and Battery Partnership can be negotiated. Both are important, but not tied. In the absence of EU membership, there should be no doubt that the EEA is the only legitimate and real political anchor in the EU. But with the EEA, we will never get co-determination in the EU. This is a democratic problem.

Security and unity have become a major issue as a result of the Russian attack on Ukraine. The close cooperation between Norway and the EU on defense and security does not hinder or weaken Norwegian participation in NATO. The threats we face cannot be met with more bullets and gunfire alone, as one can get a sense from the Norwegian debate. Security requires many tools and new capabilities, which only the EU can provide and will continue to develop. EU member states are bound by the unity clauses in the Treaty. In the European Union, the 27 EU countries use consultative rights to solve challenges together. In the absence of EU membership, our own security would be protected from being weakened by an even closer relationship with the EU.

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I can't see how another 30 years with the EEA will give us the same protection.

(Voices is the debate section of ABC Nighter. Here, regular and occasional contributors write about headline topics. We also have a partnership with the Politics Online newspaper. Altinget.no . If you are burning with a comment or analysis, you can send the text to [email protected] and we will consider it).

Joshi Akinjide

Joshi Akinjide

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