European Economic Area

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The European Economic Area (EEA) was established on 1 January 1994 following an agreement between the member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Community, later the European Union (EU).[1] Specifically, it allows Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to participate in the EU's single market without a conventional EU membership. In exchange, they are obliged to adopt all EU legislation related to the single market, except those pieces of legislation that relate to agriculture and fisheries.



The EEA Agreement was signed in Porto on 2 May 1992 by the then seven states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the European Community (EC) and its then 12 member states.[2][3] On 6 December 1992, Switzerland's voters rejected the ratification of the agreement in a constitutionally-mandated referendum,[4] effectively freezing the application for EC membership submitted earlier in the year. Switzerland is instead linked to the EU by a series of bilateral agreements. On 1 January 1995, three erstwhile members of EFTA—Austria, Finland and Sweden—acceded to the European Union, which superseded the European Community upon the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty on 1 November 1993. Liechtenstein's participation in the EEA was delayed until 1 May 1995.[5]

At present, the contracting parties to the EEA Agreement are the EU and its 27 members plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Turkey and Ukraine could join the EEA immediately, due to fewer obstacles than full EU membership.[6]

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