Icelandic Minister of Social Affairs visits Brussels

Magnús Stefánsson, the Icelandic Minister of Social Affairs, visited Brussels last week on the occasion of the opening of the office of the Icelandic local authorities. The office has been operated since the 1 September 2006. The main function of the office is to pursue the interests of the local authorities with regard to the European Union and in the EEA co-operation. The formal opening of the office was last week. In addition to the Minister, a number of guests were present.

 In his speech, the Minister said among other things:

“The EEA Agreement is no doubt the most substantive and comprehensive international agreement to which Iceland is a party.  The EEA in fact grants the EEA EFTA States participation in those fields of European cooperation which is most important to us namely by making us a part of the internal market of the EU. While the agreement therefore gives us an opportunity to participate in one of the most important economic area in the world it also encompasses cooperation in various European programs and activities that relate to infrastructure and the functioning of our societies. Those opportunities should be used by Icelandic municipalities as well as other stakeholders in the agreement to the fullest.”

 During his visit the Minister met the Icelandic Ambassador to the European Communities, Stefán Haukur Jóhannesson as well as Lilja Viðarsdóttir, Deputy Director of EFTA and College Memers of the EFTA Surveillance Authority.  Finally the Minister met with Stéphane Ouaki, Deputy Head of Cabinet of the EU Commissioner of Employment and Social Affairs.

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