European Economic Area

European Economic Area

Introduction to European Economic Area

European Economic Area (EEA), association formed to establish a single market and free-trade area among countries of the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The EEA is the largest free-trade zone in the world. It has 30 members, comprising the 27 EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. Switzerland, the only member of EFTA that did not join the EEA, maintains observer status.

After the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC, now the EU) in 1957, several Western European countries became concerned about the EEC’s requirement that they relinquish some control over their economic policies. As an alternative, these countries created EFTA, which was based purely on cooperation among governments. With the growing success of the EEC (which by that time was called the European Community, or EC) in the 1970s and 1980s, the EFTA nations began to worry that their economies would be negatively affected by not having access to the internal market of the EC. Negotiations began in 1990 to establish a common market for the EC members and EFTA. The result was the treaty that created the European Economic Area.

The treaty forming the EEA was signed in Porto (Oporto), Portugal, in 1992 and went into effect in 1994. The main provisions of the treaty are (1) the free movement of people, services, capital, and goods within the EEA; (2) the adoption by the EFTA of EU rulings relating to consumer protection, the environment, business law, education, research, and social policy; (3) the gradual liberalization of the EFTA’s agricultural policy; and (4) the establishment of an EFTA surveillance authority, a body that oversees the implementation of EEA policies in the EFTA states that joined the EEA.

The two major bodies in the EEA administrative structure are the EEA Council and the EEA Joint Committee. The EEA Council sets general policy goals for the EEA. It is made up of the Council of the European Union and representatives of the governments of the EFTA states that joined the EEA. The Joint Committee is primarily responsible for extending the scope of relevant EU legislation to include the EFTA members. The committee is composed of representatives from the EFTA states, the EU member states, and the European Commission (the EU’s primary administrative body).” (1)

Agreement On the European Economic Area (Eea)

Content about European Economic Area from the publication “The ABC of European Union law” (2010, European Union) by Klaus-Dieter Borchardt.

The EEA Agreement brings the (remaining) countries in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) into the internal market and, by requiring them to incorporate nearly two thirds of the EU’s legislation, lays a firm basis for subsequent accession. In the EEA, on the basis of the acquis communautaire (the body of primary and secondary Union legislation), there is to be free movement of goods, persons, services and capital, uniform rules on competition and state aid, and closer cooperation on horizontal and flanking policies (environment, research and development, education).

Definition of European Economic Area

In accordance with the work A Dictionary of Law, this is a description of European Economic Area : (EEA)

A free-trade area encompassing the 15 member states of the *European Union and the member states (excluding Switzerland) of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), i.e. Norway, Iceland, and (from 1 May 1995) Liechtenstein. The EEA Agreement, which contains many provisions similar to the *Treaty of Rome, was signed in 1992 and came into force on 1 January 1994. The EEA has its own institutions, such as the EFTA Court of Justice and the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA), and many of the EU Single Market directives and other legislative measures apply within it, although it does not have a budget.

European Economic area (EEA) Member Countries

They are the following:

Czech Republic

Description of European Economic Area (EEA)

The Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union describes european economic area (eea) in the following terms: [1] The EEA Treaty was signed in 1992. It initially comprised the EU member states plus the EFTA countries of Austria, Finland, Iceland, Liechtenstein,Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. The Swiss, however, rejected the Treaty in a referendum, so that the EEA did not come into being until 1994. The Treaty was prompted by the entry into force of the single market and was designed to create a Europe-wide free-trade zone – albeit on terms dictated by the EU.

The essence of the arrangements is that the EFTA countries accept the acquis communautaire and are bound by Community legislation, over which they have no influence (see more in this European encyclopedia). These features are often said to demonstrate the futility of the EFTA position, highlighted by the defection of Austria, Finland and Sweden to the EU in 1995, following the end of the Cold War (see more in this European encyclopedia). Membership of the EEAdoes not, however, commit the signatories to the Common Foreign and Security Policy, to co-operation in Justice and Home Affairs, to EMU, to the Common Agricultural Policy or to the Common Fisheries Policy. Moreover, the institutions of the EEA, including the EFTA Court, are expressly stated to lack the sovereign authority claimed by the institutions of the Eu (see more in this European encyclopedia). Thus most of the areas which define national independence remain within the competence of the three EEA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) that have elected not to join the Eu (see more in this European encyclopedia). At the same time they escape the most intrusive and costly of the EU’s policies – altogether perhaps a better bargain than the EU would care to admit for surrendering a say in the framing of single market legislation.

European Economic Area and the European Union


See Also

  • EEA


Notas y References

  1. Based on the book “A Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union from Aachen to Zollverein”, by Rodney Leach (Profile Books; London)

See Also


Notes and References

  1. Information about European Economic Area in the Encarta Online Encyclopedia

Guide to European Economic Area

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