Today, 25 May 2020, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman chaired a political dialogue and an informal meeting of ministers of the European Economic Area (EEA). The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member states, which are members of the EEA, were led by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Ina Marie Eriksen Søreide. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein, Katrin Eggenberger and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iceland, Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson were also attending the meeting.
The meeting was opened with a discussion on the external dimension of the COVID-19 crisis and the current situation in negotiations with the United Kingdom. EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier briefed those present on the current state of negotiations.
Furthermore, a debate on the European Green Plan also took place, which envisions climate neutrality within the EU by 2050. The Executive Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans joined the exchange of views as well. It was emphasized that despite the health crisis, the European Green Plan should continue to be the basis for the necessary economic transformation towards sustainable development and climate neutrality, which are one of the EU's most important long-term goals.
Ministers and EU officials then exchanged views on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the Internal Market and the Agreement on the European Economic Area. "Although the internal market has shown resilience and adaptability in this crisis, the full recovery of the EU economy has shown us that health and logistics challenges require coordination of exit strategies and recovery plans for all those participating in the Internal Market," said Minister Grlić Radman.
All parties adopted the joint statement in which they agreed that the functioning Internal Market is in their common interest. The joint statement emphasized the importance of tackling the crisis in a spirit of solidarity and the need to decrease social and economic disparities between the European regions.
As a chairman, Minister Grlić Radman thanked the EEA countries for their response: “The COVID19 pandemic is a problem that we have to face together and find common solutions. Multilateral cooperation is the only effective response to the COVID19 pandemic, therefore this meeting was an important step on the road to recovery of the EU and the EEA from the current crisis. "