Negotiations over the price Norway pays to win access to EU markets, since it’s not a member of the EU, are running into more than a year of overtime. Now Norway’s government minister in charge of EU issues, Vidar Helgesen, reportedly is offering nearly another NOK 800 million (USD 106 million) but it still doesn’t meet EU demands.
“We want to reach a conclusion,” Helgesen told newspaper Aftenposten this week during a trip to Brussels. “Therefore we came with a new offer.”
He wouldn’t specify the amount, other than to say it would be in line with the amount the EU itself intends to increase its allotment by for measures aimed at evening out social and economic differences. Aftenposten reckoned that would thus amount to around NOK 778 million over the next five years.
A meeting was held Monday between the European Economic Area’s council, which oversees cooperation between the EU and the three countries making up the EEA: Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstien. Norway contributes the lion’s share of their financial contribution to the EU.
Helgesen said his new offer was meant to speed up the EEA’s negotiations with the EU. From 2009-2014, Norway and its non-EU partners paid around EUR 1.8 billion to the EU through the so-called EØS-avtale, the agreement giving them EU market access. The EU wants as much as 80 percent more than that for the new five-year period, to relieve social and economic problems in the EU’s poorest member countries. Norway, which pays 97 percent of the amount, argues the EU has actually cut its own contributions, so the negotiations continue. Helgesen admitted there was still “a wide gap” between the EU and EEA.