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I am pleased to have had the opportunity to meet again with Prime Minister Stoltenberg. We met not long ago in Oslo in December on the occasion of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.
We discussed the bilateral relations between the European Union and Norway and the economic situation in Europe. In our meeting I confirmed that our relationship is very solid and of great value to the EU. Norway is closely integrated into the EU’s internal market and other policies through the European Economic Area. It is also one of the EU's most important trade partner.
We had a fruitful discussion about issues where our cooperation could be further enhanced, such as the European Economic Area backlog or certain recent measure in agricultural trade.
We discussed the present economic situation in the European Union, an issue Prime Minister Stoltenberg follows with great interest. In this context I would like to commend the Norwegian Government and Prime Minister Stoltenberg for the financial assistance Norway contributes through the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism and the bilateral Norway Grants to the economic and social cohesion of the EU.
Norway is also a close partner as regards foreign policy. Our respective policies are based on the same values and we share similar concerns. In this context I expressed the European Union's support for successful Arctic co-operation in order to meet the challenges confronting the region, such as sustainable development, environmental stability and strategic security.
Overall, we note with satisfaction that over the last two years our relations with Norway have continued to be marked by a high level of cooperation and stability.