What is the EEA?
The initialism EEA stands for the European Economic Area, which is a European territory consisting of 31 countries. The area was established as a result of the Treaty of 1992, signed between the member states.
EEA Member States
The EEA consists of 28 EU member states and the three other EFTA member states. The 31 member countries of the European Economic Area are as follows:
|Croatia||Czech Republic||Cyprus ***|
|United Kingdom **|
* Non-EU country
** The agreement is applied to Gibraltar as well
*** The agreement is not applied to Northern Cyprus
What is the purpose of EEA?
The agreement of the European Economic Area provides its member states with:
- free movement of:
- capital within the European Single Market, including the freedom to choose residence in any country within this area
Main EEA agreements
The main agreements signed between the states, that have made this zone, are as following:
Nineteen states + EEC and ECSC originally signed it on May 2, 1992. The agreement entered into force on January 1, 1994, as adjusted by the 1993 Protocol.
Eighteen states + EEC and ECSC originally signed the adjusting protocol on March 17, 1993. The protocol entered into force on January 1, 1994, without the signature of Switzerland.
Participation of ten new States
The 28 states + EC signed an agreement on the participation of ten new states in the EEA on October 14, 2003. The agreement entered into force on December 6, 2005, following the enlargement of the European Union in 2004.
Participation of two new States
The 30 states + EC signed an agreement on the participation of two new states in the EEA on July 25, 2007. The agreement entered into force on November 9, 2011 following the enlargement of the European Union in 2007.
Participation of one new State
The 31 states + EU signed an agreement on the participation of one new state in the EEA on 11 April 2014 following the enlargement of the European Union in 2013. The agreement has not yet come into force.
Differences between the EEA and EU
In terms of membership, the main difference between the EU and the EEA is that the latter consists of three more countries, which are:
The EEA is a Single Market of member states, which have to implement all EU legislation in the field of the Single Market. While the purpose of the EEA is to extend the EU’s internal market to countries in the European Free Trade Area (EFTA), the EEA members are not obliged to implement EU policies on:
- common agriculture and fisheries policies (although the EEA Agreement contains provisions on trade in agricultural and fish products)
- customs union
- common trade policy
- common foreign and security policy
- justice and home affairs (although current EEA States are part of the Schengen area)
- direct and indirect taxation
- economic and monetary union
Differences between the EEA and EFTA
EFTA stands for the European Free Trade Association, which has four member states. These members are:
Three of the four EFTA members participate in the European Economic Area. Only Switzerland is neither part of the EEA nor the EU.
The main difference between the two is that to join the EEA it is necessary first to join EFTA. However, a country does not need to be part of the EEA, to participate in the EFTA.
In addition, EFTA itself does not have access to the Single Market due to the fact that it has no trade relationship with the EU. This is the main reason why Switzerland has bilateral agreements outside of the EFTA framework.
Differences between the EEA and the Schengen Area
While the EEA is about free movement of goods, services, capital and people, the Schengen Area is about travelling without border controls with a unified visa regime for the whole area. Most EEA countries are part of the Schengen Area.
The following countries are part of the EEA, but not of the Schengen Zone:
- United Kingdom
On the other hand, the country of Switzerland is part of the Schengen Zone but not of the EEA. Still, due to special agreements, it can still participate in internal markets.
Differences between the EEA and EUROZONE
The Eurozone is an EU subgroup of European Union member states that use the same currency, the Euro. These countries are as following:
- the Netherlands
None of the EFTA member states have the Euro as their currency, while 19 of the EU or EEA member states use the Euro as their currency.