EU anger at new Norway tariff plans

A Norwegian government proposal to increase tariffs on meat and cheese has sparked concern and anger in the European Union.

EU anger at new Norway tariff plans
Say cheese (Photo: Berit Keilen/Scanpix)

“It was a surprise to read about this in the newspaper. I’m disappointed,” said  János Herman, the EU’s ambassador to Norway.

“This is a clear breach of the intention of the agreement that came into force in January this year,” he told newspaper Aftenposten.

Herman was referring to Article 19 of a European Economic Area (EEA) agreement renegotiated two years ago.

The treaty requires both parties to work towards a continual liberalization of trade in agricultural products.

“This treaty was negotiated in good faith. In our view, the change the Norwegian government is laying out here runs counter to the intention of the agreement,” said Herman.

The EU has contacted the Norwegian authorities to request all the details of the mulled changes. Both parties have an obligation to consult one another if difficulties arise in implementing the agreement.

“If they really go ahead with this… yes, there will be reactions. I don’t know what the reactions will be, but we are taking this seriously,” said Herman.

EU members Sweden and Denmark both took a dim view of Norway’s plans to sidestep the agreement and instead hike import duties on meat and cheese.

“The aim [of the agreement] is the abolition of tariffs and we have to move in that direction. Norway is going in the opposite direction,” Magnus Kindbom, secretary of state at the Swedish agriculture ministry, told newspaper Nationen.

Denmark’s trade minister, Pia Olsen Dyhr, expressed similar concerns, arguing that the move would have major consequences for Norway and the rest of Europe.

“It’s going to be expensive for all of us,” she told Nationen.

“It will be expensive for European meat and cheese producers, and it will expensive for Norwegian consumers, who get less to choose from.” 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Norway and UK strike post-Brexit trade deal

Norway and the United Kingdom have struck an agreement on a free trade deal, the Norwegian government announced on Friday.

Norway and UK strike post-Brexit trade deal
Erna Solberg outside 10 Downing Street in 2019. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN / POOL / AFP)

Negotiations over the agreement have been ongoing since last summer, and the Norwegian government said that the deal is the largest free trade agreement Norway has entered into, outside of the EEA agreement. 

“The agreement entails a continuation of all previous tariff preferences for seafood and improved market access for white fish, shrimp, and several other products,” the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a statement.  

One of the sticking points of the negotiations was Norway wanting more access to sell seafood in the UK, while the UK wanted more access to sell agricultural products like cheese.

The latter was a problem due to Norway having import protection against agricultural goods. 

“This agreement secures Norwegian jobs and value creation and marks an important step forward in our relationship with the UK after Brexit. This is a long-term agreement, which at the same time helps to accelerate the Norwegian economy,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in a statement.  

 The United Kingdom is Norway’s second most important single market, after the EU. In 2020 Norwegian companies exported goods worth 135 billion kroner to the UK and imported around 42 billion kroner of goods from the UK. 

Norway has given Britain 26 quotas on agricultural products, but not for mutton and beef. The agreement does not increase the UK’s cheese quotas, state broadcaster NRK have reported. 

The agreement will still need to be signed by both the Norwegian and UK parliament.