Norway claims that the European Commission has asked the Scandinavian country to double the amount it gives to the European Economic Area (EEA) over the next five years.
The Commission is currently in the middle of discussions with the EEA countries Norway, Lichtenstein and Iceland on their financial contributions until 2020. Norway paid around €1.63 billion for its EEA membership the past five years.
According to Vidar Helgesen, the minister for the EU and European Economic Area (EEA), the European Commission now wants slightly less than the double of this amount over this period of time.
“The EU must change its approach if we are going to reach an agreement for a new period with EEA funds. We believe the EU’s demands are unrealistic and unreasonably high,” Helgesen told Dagens Næringsliv.
Norway is not a member of the EU, but is a member of the EEA which entered into force on 1 January 1994. It allows Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein to participate in the EU’s single market.
But Maja Kocijan?i?, a spokesperson for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, told EURACTIV that the Commission has not asked any of the EEA/EFTA countries to double their financial contribution. The final amount is a matter of ongoing negotiations, Kocijan?i? said.
She added that there is no fixed deadline for the ongoing negotiations, but that all parties seem to be aiming for concluding the negotiations as swiftly as possible.
The Commission has viewed Norway as a troublesome member of the EEA over the past years.
For more than a year, the Commission has complained that Norway has put extra taxes on imported goods from the EU and failed to implement more than 400 directives, effectively obstructing the EU’s single market.
For example, in January 2013, Norway introduced a tax on certain imported goods, bringing the price of imported EU cheese up by 277% and the the price of imported hydrangea flowers by 72%.
The pro-EU Norwegian government, which took office in September 2013, has stated many times that it aims to live up to the rules of the single market, but that a majority in the Norwegian parliament is blocking changes to Norway’s EU affairs policies.