European Council 25 May 2020 | Joint statement including on the EU Green Deal, Cooperation in the EEA, Covid-19 and Brexit
The members of the EEA Council held a video conference on 25 May 2020 at the initiative of Mr. Gordan Grlić-Radman, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia. The video conference was attended by Ms. Ine Eriksen Søreide, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Cooperation of Iceland, Ms. Katrin Eggenberger, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein, as well as representatives of the European Commission and the European External Action Service. The members of the EEA Council discussed the overall functioning of the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA Agreement) and the effect of COVID-19 on the Internal Market, and held an orientation debate on the European Green Deal in the context of the EEA Agreement.
Following the videoconference, the members of the EEA Council adopted the following joint statement:
Response to the COVID-19 pandemic
- We fully acknowledge the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic, and stress the need to meet this unprecedented challenge in a spirit of solidarity. Recalling the crucial importance of the EEA Agreement in closely linking our societies and economies, we stress the importance of considering how to help alleviate the serious socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and to make full and commensurate use, in the future, of all available instruments. Furthermore, we reaffirm the importance of close consultations on de-escalation/recovery strategies and on efforts to ensure the continued integrity and smooth functioning of the Internal Market and the EEA Agreement.
The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU and the EEA Agreement
- We take note of the withdrawal of the UK from the EU and the EEA on 31 January 2020, the entry into force of the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, as well as the signing of the EEA EFTA-UK Separation Agreement on 28 January 2020. We note that during the transition period and unless otherwise provided in the Withdrawal Agreement the UK shall continue to be treated as if it were a Member State of the EU in terms of rights and obligations, also for the purposes of the EEA Agreement, and that references to EEA nationals or companies or institutions shall, during the transition period, be understood to continue to include nationals or companies or institutions from the UK. This is without prejudice to the conditions provided for by the Withdrawal Agreement, notably as regards the UK's participation in the decision-making and governance of the bodies, offices and agencies of the Union. We encouraged the EU and the EEA EFTA States to continue their close dialogue on issues relevant for the EEA Agreement and related to the UK's withdrawal during the transition period and beyond.
The European Green Deal - environmental protection, climate change and energy
- With a view to making the EU climate-neutral and transforming the EEA EFTA States into low-emission societies by 2050 while safeguarding and enhancing competitiveness, we take note of the communication of the European Commission for a European Green Deal and support its aim to put climate change, the loss of biodiversity and the protection of the environment at the heart of a renewed ambition to achieve sustainability. We emphasise that delivering on such an ambition calls for a cross-sectoral, multilevel approach including cities and regions, and that the success of climate policies requires, among other things, also an effective employment policy.
- We remain fully committed to addressing climate change and pursuing energy transition and the prevention of pollution. In this regard, we emphasise the importance of continued close cooperation between the EU and the EEA EFTA States in environment, energy and climate change policies, including within the framework of the European Green Deal. In particular, we note the importance of the EU and the EEA EFTA States working together on key initiatives with EEA relevance.
- Recognising that climate change is a global problem with negative impact, we reiterated our commitment to reduce global emissions in all sectors, take further action in mitigation and adaptation and to implement the UN’s 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement as the essential multilateral framework governing global action against climate change. We remain determined to help raise global climate ambition and lead the way on accelerated climate action on all fronts, with a view to limiting global warming to well below 2°C, pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. In that regard, we underline the need for enhanced global efforts and ambition in 2020 before COP26.
- Moreover, we underlined that close cooperation should be continued in the areas of the Internal Energy Market in addition to the cooperation in the fields of energy security, emissions trading, the promotion of competitive, climate-resilient, safe and sustainable low carbon energy, energy efficiency, renewable energy resources, and carbon capture, utilisation, storage and mineralisation (CCUSM). We take note that the role of nature based solutions in mitigating and adapting to climate change and in support of biodiversity protection, restoration and sustainable use is increasingly important and that increased efforts to reduce pollution, and improve ecosystem resilience are urgently needed. In addition, close cooperation should continue on environmental issues, in particular circular economy, plastics, waste, chemicals, air and water resource management, biodiversity and pollution.
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