The EFTA Parliamentary Committee is a forum for parliamentarians from the four Member States: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. It provides the Association with a valuable link to political life in each EFTA country and, through its cooperation with parliamentarians in the European Union, serves as a link between political life in EFTA and the EU.
History and structure
Informal exchanges of views between parliamentarians from the different EFTA countries started in 1963. These meetings were formalised in 1977, when the Committee of Members of Parliament of the EFTA Countries (CMP) was founded.
Since 1981, the Committee has held regular meetings with Members of the European Parliament. These relations were institutionalised through the formation of the EEA Joint Parliamentary Committee (EEA JPC) when the EEA Agreement entered into force in 1994.
This means that since the entry into force of the EEA Agreement, there have in fact been two EFTA Parliamentary Committees: the CMP, which comprises all four Member States and deals with matters related to third countries outside the EU, and the Committee of Members of Parliament of the EFTA States (MPS), which deals with EEA-related matters and forms the EFTA side of the EEA JPC. Switzerland has observer status in the MPS.
The EFTA Parliamentary Committee usually holds six meetings a year. It focuses on the functioning of the EEA, political developments in the EU and their impact on the EEA, and developments in EFTA’s free trade agreements (FTAs) and current trade negotiations. In addition to these regular meetings, each year a delegation from the Committee visits one or more third countries where EFTA is currently negotiating or updating an FTA. The aim of these visits is to support the work of the EFTA’s national governments and to add a parliamentary dimension to these negotiation processes.
The EFTA Parliamentary Committee also follows other aspects of free trade, such as WTO multilateral framework negotiations and human rights aspects and environmental policies in FTAs. In 2008, the Committee obtained observer status in the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO, organised by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the European Parliament.
The EFTA Parliamentary Committee also meets twice a year with the EFTA Consultative Committee, ensuring an exchange of views between parliamentarians and social partners in the Member States on topical issues related to EFTA’s work.
Relations with the European Parliament
The EEA Joint Parliamentary Committee (EEA JPC) is composed of Members of the European Parliament and parliamentarians from the EEA EFTA States. Its task is to contribute to a better understanding between the EU and the EEA EFTA States in the fields covered by the EEA Agreement. The focus of the EEA JPC is to scrutinise developments in the EU and their potential impact on the EEA Agreement, and its members have the right to put oral and written questions to the representatives of the EEA Council and the EEA Joint Committee. The EEA JPC meets twice a year, once in one of the three EEA EFTA States and once at the European Parliament.
As a consultative body, the EEA JPC expresses its views on any matter of relevance to the EEA through resolution texts. It also addresses topical issues with European Commissioners and Commission representatives, with the aim of raising the profile of matters in which the EEA EFTA States have a high interest.
Members of the EFTA Parliamentary Committee (January 2017)
Ms Hanna Katrín Friðriksson, Reform Party
Mr Smári McCarthy, Pirate Party
Mr Vilhjálmur Bjarnason, Independence Party
Ms Svandís Svavarsdóttir, Left-Green Movement
Mr Páll Magnússon, Independence Party
Mr Jón Steindór Valdimarsson, Reform Party
Ms Ásta Guðrún Helgadóttir, Pirate Party
Ms Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir, Independence Party
Mr Andrés Ingi Jónsson, Left-Green Movement
Mr Óli Björn Kárason, Independence Party
Mr Elfried Hasler, Progressive Citizens' Party (MPS Vice-Chair)
Mr Harry Quaderer, Independent
Mr Manfred Kaufmann, Patriotic Union
Mr Eugen Nägele, Progressive Citizens' Party
Mr Svein Roald Hansen, Labour Party (CMP/MPS Chair)
Mr Gunnar Gundersen, Conservative Party
Ms Marianne Aasen, Labour Party
Ms Elin Rodum Agdestein, Conservative Party
Mr Jørund Rytman, Progress Party
Mr Geir Toskedal, Christian Democratic Party
Ms Irene Johansen, Labour Party
Mr Fredric Holen Bjørdal, Labour Party
Ms Jette F. Christensen, Labour Party
Ms Heidi Nordby Lunde, Conservative Party
Mr Ove Bernt Trellevik, Conservative Party
Mr Hans Andreas Limi, Progress Party
Mr Tor André Johnsen, Progress Party
Ms Liv-Signe Navarsete, Centre Party
Mr Sveinung Rotevatn, Liberal Party
Mr Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås, Socialist Left Party
Swiss delegation (observers in the MPS)
Mr Thomas Aeschi, Swiss People's Party (CMP Vice-Chair)
Ms Karin Keller-Sutter, FDP. The Liberals
Ms Kathy Riklin, Christian Democratic Party
Mr Hannes Germann, Swiss People's Party
Mr Eric Nussbaumer, Social Democratic Party
Mr Didier Berberat, Social Democratic Party
Mr Jean-François Rime, Swiss People's Party
Mr Hans Peter Portmann, FDP. The Liberals
Mr Hans Egloff, Swiss People's Party
Mr Konrad Graber, Christian Democratic Party