Norway wants to be included in the Brexit process but says that the U.K. and the EU needs to decide how to include it in the process.
The Norway wants that its access to the U.K market should not be put at risk. For this purpose, the country is lobbying with Michel Barnier, the chief Brexit negotiator for the EU. Norway is the biggest gas supplier to the UK.
“Our core message to Barnier is that Norway isn’t just any ordinary third-party country,” Marit Berger Rosland, Norway’s EU and EEA Affairs Minister, said in an interview at the Foreign Ministry in Oslo.
The aim of Norway is to ensure that it does not loose U.K. market entry opportunities during and after the transition talks that are now being held between the UK and the EU and once a deal is achieved between the two parties when Britain formally leaves the bloc in March of 2019. Norway is the largest exporter of oil and natural gas in Western Europe and the richest Scandinavian country.
Norway is very eager to protect its access to the market of its key trading partner as it is the provider of almost 40 per cent of the energy needs of the UK.
“Things are time-critical and it’s important to secure real agreements over the days and weeks we have up to the EU summit in the middle of December,” Ms Rosland said. But comments by Barnier also suggest “we have to be prepared for a no-deal scenario.”
Oslo has an understanding that “any transition solutions will also be applied to Norway”, says Ms Rosland, while reiterating her position that is the same as the one that was held by her predecessor. The U.K. government should strive to “any transition solutions will also be applied to Norway”, is the message that the 39-year-old minister says is her message to the UK Government.
While the minister admits that a number of scenarios needs to be considered because “both countries have a great interest in maintaining gas exports on good terms”, she also says that Norway does not anticipate that Brexit would adversely impact its gas exports. Keeping in mind the potential situation where Brexit talks does not end up in any form of agreement between the EU and the U.K., the Norwegian government is also undertaking whatever measures that it can tae to prepare itself for such an eventuality.
The value of Norway’s association and membership in the EEA has been underscored by the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, Ms Rosland says.
“With all the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the EEA model is now almost stronger because we are more aware of the predictability it gives us with access to the common market,” Ms Rosland said. “Even if we are not a member of the EU, there is a clear cooperation model between us and the EU countries in the economic sphere.”
“The EEA agreement is safer than it has been for a long time,” Ms Rosland said.
(Adapted from Independent.co.uk)