Fico: Norwegian Model Could Inspire UK-EU Cooperation after Brexit

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. (Photo by TASR/AP)

Bratislava, August 23 (TASR) – The Norwegian model could serve as an inspiration for a mode of cooperation between Britain and the EU following Brexit, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said at a press conference after meeting Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

“Our debate was dominated by European issues, but we didn’t avoid bilateral cooperation, either,” said Fico, adding that having no unresolved issues, the two countries have many things in common instead.

At the same time he thanked Norway for the opportunity of drawing money from the Norwegian financial mechanism – or Norway Funds – for various projects in Slovakia. “I believe that 2014-21 is going to be as successful as the previous period,” said the Slovak premier.

Fico said he’s pleased that Slovakia appears to be attractive for Norwegian students, as there are more than 700 of them studying medicine and veterinary in Martin (Zilina region) and Kosice, for example. At the same time he thanked Norway for creating good labour conditions for Slovaks in Norway.

Commenting on migration, Fico said that Slovakia wants to display solidarity in tackling the crisis in Europe. “On the other hand, we also expect greater scope for flexibility for countries in terms of offering their own approaches.”

Slovakia, as the presiding country of the EU Council in the second half of 2016, wants to provide scope for Norway to promote its interests in the EU, said Fico.

Meanwhile, Solberg stated that the two countries are cooperating in many sectors, even though Norway isn’t an EU member state. However, they’re both in NATO.

“Small countries, such as ours, must cooperate – otherwise big countries will decide for them,” she said. Norway’s population is 5.2 million compared to Slovakia’s 5.4 million.

“We feel strongly about seeing proper relations between Norway and the EU,” she said, adding that her country prefers continuing in dialogue with the Union as part of the existing Norway-EU partnership.

Solberg described Slovak-Norwegian trade and business relations as excellent, with a rising tendency.

Slovakia has acquired €113.1 million for various projects from the Norwegian funds, while the contribution for 2009-14 represented more than €80 million.