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[[Image:EEA.svg|thumb|325px|The EEA is composed of the;


The European Economic Area (EEA) was established on 1 January 1994 following an agreement between member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA),the European Community (EC), and all member states of the European Union (EU). It allows these EFTA countries to participate in the European single market without joining the EU.


See also: EU enlargement to EFTA states

The contracting parties to the EEA Agreement are three of the four EFTA states—Icelandmarker, Liechtensteinmarker and Norwaymarker (except for Svalbardmarker )—and the 27 EU Member States along with the European Community.

Switzerlandmarker is not part of the EEA. A referendum (mandated by the Swiss constitution) was held and rejected the proposal to join. Switzerlandmarker is linked to the European Union by the Swiss–EU bilateral agreements, with a different content from that of the EEA agreement.

Austriamarker, Finlandmarker and Swedenmarker joined the EEA in 1994, but the EEA agreement was superseded by EU membership in 1995.

Freedoms and obligations

The EEA is based on the same "four freedoms"as the European Community: the free movement of goods, persons, services, and capital among the EEA countries. Thus, the EFTA countries that are part of the EEA enjoy free trade with the European Union.

As a counterpart, these countries have to adopt part of the Law of the European Union.These states have little influence on decision-making processes in Brusselsmarker.

The EFTA countries that are part of the EEA do not bear the financial burdens associated with EU membership, although they contribute financially to the European single market. After the EU/EEA enlargement of 2004 there was a tenfold increase in the financial contribution of the EEA States, in particular Norway, to social and economic cohesion in the Internal Market (€1167 million over five years).

EFTA countries do not receive any funding from EU policies and development funds


The non EU members of the EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) have agreed to enact legislation similar to that passed in the EU in the areas of social policy, consumer protection, environment, company law and statistics. These are some of the areas covered by the European Community (the "first pillar" of the European Union).

The non EU members of the EEA have no representation in Institutions of the European Union such as the European Parliamentmarker or European Commissionmarker. In February 2001, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg described the situation as a “fax democracy”, with Norway waiting for their latest legislation to be faxed from the Commission.


A Joint Committee consisting of the EEA-EFTA States plus the European Commissionmarker (representing the EU) has the function of extending relevant EU law to the non EU members. An EEA Council meets twice yearly to govern the overall relationship between the EEA members.

Rather than setting up pan-EEA institutions, the activities of the EEA are regulated by the EFTA Surveillance Authority and the EFTA Courtmarker, which parallel the work of the EU's European Commissionmarker and European Court of Justice. See EEA institutions for further information.

EEA and Norway Grants

The EEA and Norway Grants are the financial contributions of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to reduce social and economic disparities in Europe. In the period 2004- 2009, €1.3 billion of project funding is made available for project funding in the 15 beneficiary states in Central and Southern Europe.

The EEA and Norway Grants were established in conjunction with the 2004 enlargement of the European Economic Area (EEA), which brings together the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway in the Internal Market.

See also


  1. previously, the European Economic Community and European Coal and Steel Community. The latter was absorbed into the former in 2002 and the former became the European Community pillar of the EU in 1993.
  2. Swiss reject EEA
  3. In Norway, EU pros and cons (the cons still win)

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