A widely held image of Norway as a wealthy country that was unscathed by the finance crisis can “create challenges,” according to Norwegian officials who’ve recently launched a negotiation process at the EU over Norway’s financial contribution to the weakest EU member nations.
Negotiations began in Brussels last week over how much money Norway and its two fellow EU economic cooperation partners, Iceland and Liechtenstein, should contribute to EU countries in eastern and southern Europe that currently receive financial aid from the EU. The biggest recipients since 2009 include Poland, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, while Greece, Spain, Lithuania, Slovakia, Latvia, Estonia, Cyprus, Malta, Slovenia and Portugal also receive what’s called EØS-midlene in Norway (funds from its negotiated economic cooperation with the EU).
Ingvild Stub, a state secretary in Norway’s foreign ministry from the Conservative Party, told newspaper Aftenposten that she thinks Norway is generous in sending billions of kroner to the EU along with the two other members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) which, like Norway, are not members of the EU itself but pay for market access to the EU. Norway has provided 97 percent of the money sent to the EU since 2009, and now it’s time to negotiate the amount of contributions over the next five years.
EU negotiators didn’t initially make any specific demands of Norway when the two delegations met for the first time last week, but Stub expects the EU will demand more than the NOK 14 billion agreed in 2009. Norway, meanwhile, will hold out for “satisfactory” EU market access for Norwegian seafood.