Brende briefs Brexit Britain

Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende tells British politicians what being part of a single market means

Michael Sandelson & Charlotte Bryan
The Foreigner

Børge Brende met with his UK counterpart Boris Johnson in London on December 5. British Conservative Party members, Brexit Secretary David Davis, and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox were also involved.

Previous to the meeting, Foreign Minister Brende told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that there is no “silver bullet” regarding Brexit that would allow for single market access without paying into the EU.

“Being a part of the single market, as we are, also means to implement all directives, and we are not in the room when these directives are decided on. But there has been a consensus around this in Norway that it is in our interest to be a part of the single market, and that is what we have to contribute.”

Norway, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, and Iceland have access to the single market through membership of the Economic Area (EEA). These countries are also members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

Brende also referred to the single market’s principles of free movement of goods, people, services, and capital across borders on his visit to the UK capital.

“We have also implemented all the four freedoms,” he stated, adding that Norway has no formal say, but that is the price to pay. Seventy percent of Norway’s exports go to the EU and it “had served our country well.”

The Norwegian Foreign Minister also raised trade as an issue. Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg has previously stated that she is concerned about how an ex-EU Britain might affect EFTA, should it become a member after Brexit.

It has been reported that Norway may block the UK’s return to the organization, as there are concerns that it may shift the balance of power in the organization. She has declared that there “won’t be any bilateral agreements between Norway and Britain before a solution is in place with the EU.”

According to Brende, Norway will wait to firm up its trading relations with Britain until after the UK’s future relationship with the European Union has been clarified.

He told Bloomberg in an interview in London that he hoped to see “great cooperation between Britain and Norway and trade arrangements that are as good as possible.”

“It’s premature to discuss this in a formal way. It has to be informal dialogues before the formalities between the UK and the EU are decided on,” Brende said.

Last month saw a meeting between Norwegian Trade and Industry Minister Monica Mæland and Britain’s Minister for Trade Policy Lord Price in Oslo, where they agreed to discuss a new bilateral trade dialogue.

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit theforeigner.no.

It also appeared in the Dec. 16, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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