Norway’s most important link with the EU is the Agreement on the European Economic Area (the EEA Agreement) of 1994. Under the Agreement, Norway and the other EEA countries are part of the EU internal market. This means that throughout the EEA countries, Norwegian citizens and companies are to be treated in the same way as citizens and companies in the EU in the areas covered by the Agreement. The EEA cooperation enables Norway to take part in the development of EU legislation in the areas that apply to the internal market, and means that Norway is bound by this legislation. In addition, Norway takes part in EU cooperation programmes in a wide range of areas including culture, research, regional policy and education.
Norway also provides economic support for efforts to reduce disparities between the EU countries through the EEA and Norway Grants. For the period 2009–2014, Norway has undertaken to provide around NOK 14 billion to the 12 newest EU member states, in addition to Greece, Portugal and Spain. These funds will be channelled to areas such as the environment and climate change, strengthening civil society, cultural heritage and justice and home affairs.
Justice and home affairs
The EU cooperation on justice and home affairs has become a central and dynamic arena for European integration. The framework for work in this area for the period 2010–2014 has been set out in the Stockholm Programme. The agreement on Norwegian participation in the Schengen cooperation is the individual agreement with the widest scope. The Schengen cooperation includes joint external border controls, a common visa policy and close police cooperation. Norway has also implemented agreements on participation in the Dublin Convention on the criteria and mechanisms for establishing the state responsible for examining a request for asylum, on police cooperation through Europol, and on the coordination of investigations and prosecutions through Eurojust.
The EU Common Foreign and Security Policy
In many cases, Norway shares the EU’s viewpoints and interests in international politics. Therefore Norway cooperates closely with the EU on foreign policy and security and defence. Through the EEA Agreement, Norway has a regular political dialogue with the EU on international questions. Norway aligns itself with EU foreign policy statements in a wide range of areas.
In the field of security and defence policy, Norway contributes civilian and military personnel to the European Union's mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUPM). The Norwegian Government also provides considerable financial support for various efforts in the West Balkans and northwestern Russia.