European Economic Area (EEA)

Author (Person)
Series Title
Series Details July 2016 [updated November 2018]
Publication Date November 2018
Content Type

The Agreement creating the European Economic Area (EEA) entered into force on 1 January 1994. It allows the EEA EFTA States (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) to participate in the Internal Market.

The EEA Agreement also states that when a country becomes a member of the European Union, it shall also apply to become a party to the EEA Agreement, thus leading to an enlargement of the EEA.

The EEA Agreement provides for the inclusion of EU legislation covering the four freedoms — the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital — throughout the 31 EEA States. In addition, the Agreement covers cooperation in other important areas such as research and development, education, social policy, the environment, consumer protection, tourism and culture, collectively known as “flanking and horizontal” policies. The Agreement guarantees equal rights and obligations within the Internal Market for citizens and economic operators in the EEA.

The EEA Agreement does not cover the following EU policies:
+ Common Agriculture and Fisheries Policies (although the Agreement contains provisions on various aspects of trade in agricultural and fish products)
+ Customs Union
+ Common Trade Policy
+ Common Foreign and Security Policy
+ Justice and Home Affairs (even though the EFTA countries are part of the Schengen area)
+ Monetary Union (EMU).

Switzerland is not part of the EEA Agreement, but has a set of bilateral agreements with the EU.

Related Link(s)
EFTA: European Economic Area (EEA)
EU: European External Action Service: European Economic Area (EEA)
Wikipedia: European Economic Area
Iceland: Government: Foreign Affairs: Iceland in Europe
Norway: Government: European Policy: The European Economic Area Agreement
Liechtenstein: The Principality: Economy: Foreign Trade

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