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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
SPEECH: Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Mr Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway
22 February 2013
Let me wholeheartedly welcome Prime Minister Stoltenberg in Brussels.
I am very glad that my friend Jens Stoltenberg could follow my invitation swiftly further to my visit to Norway in December when the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. I will never forget this most important and very moving moment in the history of the European Union. It's a part of our history that will be so deeply linked to Norway. Once again I want to thank Norway for the hospitality and their support in that great moment for the European Union.
Today, in our conversation we focused on a number of bilateral and regional issues.
The Prime Minister and I share the analysis that our relationship is rock-solid, it's a political and economic stronghold in difficult economic times full of uncertainties. It brings about concrete economic and political gains for both sides. Norway benefits for example from access to the largest integrated market in the world – the European Union market.
I expressed my gratitude to the Prime Minister for Norway's many contributions to the EU. For example, the European Economic Area/Norway grants towards economic and social cohesion in Europe are very welcome, particularly at this time as we seek to promote employment opportunities through sustainable, smart and inclusive growth.
The European Economic Area Agreement is the foundation for the special relationship that exists between the European Union and Norway. I welcome the fact that the EEA Agreement remains the basis of Norway's European policy, as expressed in the government's White Paper, and the Norwegian parliament's debate on it.
Facilitating the legal incorporation of EEA-relevant EU law into Norwegian legislation is essential if we are to maintain the homogeneity of the single market for citizens and businesses. This is, after all, a founding principle of the EEA and has proved essential to its success.
I'm absolutely sure that both our economies stand to gain from that.
Today, we also touched upon developments in the Arctic region, which is of strategic interest to both Norway and the European Union. We both believe that we should deepen our cooperation in this key area, including with other Arctic partners, in order to help safeguard that region while also ensuring its sustainable development.
The European Commission will certainly participate in the 20th anniversary of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, and I thanked the Prime Minister for his kind invitation.
To conclude, I am very happy that today's meeting confirmed once again our mutual commitment to develop further our very special relationship. It is a source of confidence, stability and prosperity for both sides.