Norway: call for withdrawal of new Norwegian import duties

Recently increased Norwegian import duties undermine the EEA Treaty. EPP Group MEPs Esther de Lange, Bendt Bendtsen and Daniel Caspary have called for the European Commission to take immediate action.

Recently increased Norwegian import duties undermine the EEA Treaty. EPP Group MEPs Esther de Lange, Bendt Bendtsen and Daniel Caspary have called for the European Commission to take immediate action.

As of January 1 2013, Norway has significantly increased custom duties on imports of specific agricultural products, including lamb meat, beef, and certain cheeses from the EU. The increase in duties is a consequence of changing the calculation method from a fixed rate to ad valorem. Not only does the increase in duties harm European businesses and trade with Norway in general, it is also detrimental to the health and future of the EEA agreement between the EU and Norway.

“We stress the need for the Commission to start talks with Norway urgently. Imposing these one-sided import duties is not the way we should work together”, said Esther de Lange MEP. “I understand Norway wants to protect its farmers, but ours are struggling to make a living too. There are other means to deal with it.”

Bendt Bendtsen MEP added: “In addition to unilaterally increasing customs duties, Norway is cherry-picking which EU Directives it wants to implement, as we saw with the Directive on Postal Services. All in all, we are seeing a very regrettable pattern in Norway’s attitude towards the European Union on important issues. Therefore, I call for the Commission to take immediate action against Norway. An idea could be to re-introduce duties on Norwegian salmon imported to the EU.”

Daniel Caspary MEP said: “Agreements must be kept. The European Commission must set a deadline for Norway to retract its unilateral decisions. We want open trade which benefits us all, but both sides must keep to the rules they signed up to.”

While fisheries and agriculture are not part of the EEA Treaty on the freedom of movement of goods, Article 19 of the EEA Treaty stipulates a gradual liberalisation of these areas. Since the entry-into-force of the EEA Treaty in 1994, only two bilateral trade negotiations have been successfully completed with Norway (2002, 2010).