The European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland and the North

The European Economic Area was formed in 1994 in order to extend the European Union’s provisions on its internal market to countries in the European Free Trade Area (EFTA). EU legislation relating to the internal market becomes part of the legislation of the EEA countries once they have agreed to incorporate it. Implementation and enforcement are then monitored by specific EFTA bodies and a Joint Parliamentary Committee.

single_marketThe EU and two of its EEA partners — Norway and Iceland — are also linked by various ‘northern policies’ and forums which focus on the rapidly evolving northern reaches of Europe and the Arctic region as a whole.

While Switzerland is not part of the EEA, it remains a member of EFTA. More than 120 sectoral bilateral treaties linking the country with the EU incorporate largely the same provisions as those adopted by the other EEA countries in the fields of the free movement of people, goods, services and capital.

However, bilateral relations have been severely strained since the February 2014 anti-immigration initiative, the outcome of which called into question the principles of free movement and the single market that underpin those relations.

To find out more about the legal basis of the EEA, please click here.