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European Economic Area (EEA)

The European Economic Area (EEA) comprises:

  • 28 EU countries; and
  • 3 of the 4 members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) — Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

The EEA was established by the EEA Agreement which enables the 3 EFTA countries to participate fully in the EU’s single market. It covers the 4 freedoms — the free movement of goods, capital, services and persons — as well as competition and State aid rules, and other areas related to the 4 freedoms.

It also guarantees equal rights and obligations within the single market for citizens and businesses throughout the EEA. It entered into force on 1 January 1994.

The EEA Agreement does not cover the following:

  • common agricultural and fisheries policies;
  • customs union;
  • common trade policy;
  • common foreign and security policy;
  • justice and home affairs, although the EFTA countries are members of the Schengen area;
  • direct and indirect taxation; or
  • economic and monetary union.

The EEA’s management is shared between the EU and the 3 EFTA countries.