European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement

The European Economic Area (“EEA”) Agreement is an international agreement that extends the European Union’s (“EU”) internal market to include the member states of the European Free Trade Association (“EFTA”), except for Switzerland. The agreement was signed in 1992 and came into force in 1994. The EEA Agreement creates a single market area encompassing the EU member states and three EFTA states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. It establishes the free movement of goods, services, capital, and persons between the EU member states and the EFTA states participating in the agreement. Key features of the EEA Agreement include …

Internal Market: The agreement extends the EU’s internal market principles to the EFTA states participating in the EEA. This means that goods, services, capital, and persons can move freely between the EU and these EFTA states, allowing for the elimination of tariffs, quotas, and most regulatory barriers to trade.

Harmonization of Legislation: The EEA Agreement requires the EFTA states to adopt and implement a significant portion of EU legislation in areas related to the internal market. This includes adopting regulations and directives governing various sectors such as product standards, competition rules, consumer protection, and environmental standards.

Participation in EU Programs: The EFTA states participating in the EEA Agreement contribute financially to various EU programs and agencies. They also participate in EU decision-making processes related to these programs and have representation in certain EU institutions.

Exemptions and Safeguard Measures: The EEA Agreement allows for certain specific exemptions and safeguard measures for the EFTA states. These measures ensure that the agreement does not impede the ability of the EFTA states to protect vital national interests in areas such as fisheries, energy, and certain social policies.

The EEA Agreement does not cover all policy areas of the EU. The agreement primarily focuses on the internal market and related policies. It does not include provisions on the EU’s common agricultural and fisheries policies, customs union, common foreign and security policy, or justice and home affairs cooperation. The EEA Agreement is intended to promote economic integration and cooperation between the EU and the EFTA states participating in the agreement. It provides these EFTA states with access to the EU’s internal market while allowing them to retain a certain degree of sovereignty over areas not covered by the agreement.