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PR(01)07: Restrictions on angling in Norway questioned by the EFTA Surveillance Authority

1.10.2002

On 27 June 2001, and following two complaints, the EFTA Surveillance Authority decided to send a letter of formal notice to Norway questioning its compliance with EEA rules concerning the free provision of services to EEA nationals wishing to fish in inland watercourses in Norway.

The grant of licences to fish in Norwegian inland watercourses is governed by Act No. 31 of 6 June 1975 which concerns fishing in watercourses situated on State common land and by Act No. 47 of 15 May 1992 in respect of fishing in watercourses on government property respectively.  Moreover, special regulations govern angling in Finnmark and in the Norwegian parts of Tana, Grense Jakobs and Pasvik rivers. According to the Acts, a license to fish may only be delivered to persons who are permanently resident in Norway and have been resident there for the previous year. Similar rules also apply to angling in Finnmark and in the Norwegian parts of the Tana and Grense Jakobs rivers. In addition, in respect of the Pasvik river national legislation mentions that only Norwegian citizens may be granted the right to fish. A similar rule applies partly to the Grense Jakobs river.

Article 4 of the EEA Agreement forbids discrimination on the basis of nationality. Article 36 of the EEA Agreement states that there shall be no restrictions on freedom to provide services within the territory of the Contracting Parties in respect of nationals of EC Member States and EFTA States who are established in an EC Member State or an EFTA State other than that of the person for whom the services are intended.

In the Authority’s opinion, making angling in Norwegian inland watercourses conditional upon a citizenship requirement or possession of a residence in Norway is contrary to the free provision of services because it entails direct or indirect discrimination on the basis of nationality. The EEA fundamental freedom to provide services includes the right for tourists from EEA States to benefit from the right to be granted fishing licenses in a similar way to Norwegian citizens or persons residing in Norway. Norway has not demonstrated that such discrimination is justified by any of the legitimate aims provided for in the EEA Agreement.

The Norwegian Government has been invited to submit its observations to the content of the letter of formal notice within three months of its receipt. In light of these observations the Authority will consider whether to proceed with the case.

For further information please contact Mr. Peter Dyrberg (Director of Legal & Executive Affairs), telephone (32)-02-286-1830.

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