During a press conference in Belgium, Norway's top diplomat Ine Eriksen Soreide said on May 25 that she was under the impression the EU will take a "flexible approach to this."
Great meeting with international correspondents in Oslo today! pic.twitter.com/NZYCXHlnAB— Nikolai Astrup (@nikolaiastrup) May 25, 2018
"On the one hand, you can say that the formal demand is that they (the British) cannot start negotiations before… the transition period is over. But I'm not entirely sure if that will be enforced to the same extent as you could think. So my impression as of Wednesday… is that (there) is the potential for some added flexibility. But we will have to wait and see. At least we have talks on both sides and will continue to do that with full force," Ms. Eriksen Soreide said.
The Norwegian-British trade relationship is focused on energy, with almost half of British gas imports originating from the Norwegian continental shelf. Britain imports about 70% of its oil from Norway, while being Oslo's most important export market.
"We are better off with a cooperation between countries and states instead of the strongest state always winning the race," Ms. Eriksen Soreide told the media.
Norway is not a member of the EU, but is part of the European Economic Area, allowing it to be part of the EU's single market. The 'Norwegian model' has been rejected by the UK government along the process of negotiations over the future of British trade relations with the EU.
The UK PM Theresa May is aiming to broker a deal, which will see Britain in a "customs partnership" with the EU.
Britain is due to leave the EU in March 2019, with the transition period agreed to last until end of 2020, during which Britain will have restricted powers.