30 Years of EEA

The EEA EFTA States – Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway – are celebrating 30 years of partnership and cooperation. To mark this milestone, an Anniversary Conference is being held on 28 May 2024 in collaboration with the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The event will feature discussions led by the Foreign Ministers of the EEA EFTA States and the Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, who oversees the European Green Deal, Interinstitutional Relations, and Foresight. Together, they will explore the future of the European Economic Area (EEA). The venue is in Brussels at the Merode, Place Poelaert 6. The date is 28 May 2024, 16.00-17.30, followed by a reception.

What is the European Economic Area? 

The European Economic Area (EEA) unites the EU Member States with three of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) States: Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. Established by the EEA Agreement, this international treaty allows these three EFTA States to fully participate in the EU's Single Market. The EEA encompasses the four fundamental freedoms – the free movement of goods, capital, services, and persons – alongside competition and state aid rules, and other related areas.

The EEA Agreement aims to create a homogenous European Economic Area by integrating relevant EU legislation into its framework, ensuring consistent application of Single Market laws across all member states.

EEA Contracting Parties

The EEA is composed of 30 member states: the 27 EU Member States and the three EFTA States of Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. These three are commonly referred to as the "EEA EFTA States" to distinguish them from Switzerland, which is not part of the EEA Agreement. However, in legal contexts, such as Joint Committee Decisions (JCDs), the term "EFTA States" includes only Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway, explicitly excluding Switzerland.

EEA Enlargement and History

The EEA Agreement stipulates that any new EU member must also apply to join the EEA, ensuring the area's continuous enlargement. Originally signed in Porto on May 2, 1992, the EEA Agreement came into effect on January 1, 1994. Liechtenstein joined the EEA on May 1, 1995.

This anniversary conference highlights the enduring cooperation and shared goals of the EEA EFTA States and the EU, paving the way for future collaboration and integration within the European Economic Area.

Source: EFTA


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