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European Economic Area

The European Economic Area (EEA) is a partnership between the European Union (EU) members and three of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries – Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. It was established on 1 January 1994 following an agreement between the member states. The aim of the EEA is to extend the EU’s internal market to the participating EFTA states, allowing them almost full access to the EU’s single market. Consequently, these countries have the freedom to allow movement of goods, services, capital, and persons with the EU, although they do not have a formal say in the creation of EU law. However, they do contribute to the decision-shaping process of new legislative proposals before they are adopted. The EEA agreement does not cover common agriculture and fisheries policies, customs union, common trade policy, common foreign and security policy, justice and home affairs, nor the monetary union (Eurozone).

The EEA thus plays a critical role in facilitating trade and economic integration between its members by offering a homogenized regulatory environment, although it requires the EFTA countries to adopt much of the EU’s legislation without being EU member states. Important to note is that Switzerland is an EFTA member but is not a part of the EEA; it instead has separate bilateral agreements with the EU.

For more information about the European Economic Area, the following websites can be visited:

1. The European Free Trade Association (EFTA):

This website provides comprehensive information about the EEA provided by the EFTA itself. It explains the structure of the EEA, its objectives, the legal framework, how it functions, and the participation of the EFTA states.

2. The European Commission – European Union:

This is the official EU website that offers a detailed description of the EEA, profiling it within the context of the larger EU framework, explaining its significance, mechanisms, and the areas of policy that it influences. It serves as a valuable resource for understanding the relationship between the EU and the EEA.

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