ARCHIVE - EEA ENLARGEMENT
The Agreement Establishing the European Economic Area (EEA Agreement) was concluded between the European Community (EC) and seven Member States of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). It was signed in May 1992 in Oporto. It entered into force on 1 January 1994 in the member states of the European Union and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), save for Switzerland. After the accession of Austria, Finland and Sweden to the European Union the countries remaining within EFTA were Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Switzerland concluded bilateral sectoral agreements with the EU.
The EEA Agreement extends the rules of the internal market of the European Union to Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein (EEA-EFTA states), thus enabling the advantages of the four fundamental freedoms of internal market and the corresponding rules to apply on the territory of 28 countries. It provides the legal basis for the cooperation of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein (EEA-EFTA States) in creating European Community provisions, their application in these countries, mechanisms to control the implementation of the mentioned provisions, and the political framework for the cooperation of EEA-EFTA Member States and the EU Member States.Besides the four freedoms of the EC Treaty, the Agreement implements the rules on competition and cooperation in the fields of development, the environment, education, social policy, consumer protection, and others. It does not, however, include common rules regarding agriculture and fisheries, but only rules concerning the trade in agricultural and fish products. The European Economic Area is not a customs union; it does not have a common external policy vis-a-vis third countries, either. The inhabitants of the common market of the European Economic Area may work in any country of this market, where they may, with minor limitations in certain sectors, find accommodation, enter employment, establish an undertaking, and invest.
Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein make, within the European Economic Area, financial contributions towards the reduction of economic and social disparities between Member States and regions. Thus they will contribute EUR 1167 million from 1 May 2004 to 30 April 2009. All countries within EEA-EFTA contribute funds to the general financial mechanism, while Norway contributes additional funds for the so-called Norwegian financial mechanism.Under the general financial mechanism amounting to EUR 120 million per year, the countries eligible to the use of funds will be Greece, Portugal, Spain and the ten new EU Member States. The funds will be intended to co-finance the projects in the fields of the environment, sustainable development, preservation of European cultural heritage, including the renovation of cities and public transport, development of experts (training, education, improved administrative and public services of local authorities or their institutions, as well as democratic processes they support), health and child care. The funds under the Norwegian financial mechanism annually amounting to EUR 113,4 million will be intended exclusively for the ten new member states of the European Union, especially for the projects implemented within the Schengen Agreement as well as for the strengthening of the judiciary, the implementation of the acquis in the field of the environment, regional policy and cross-border activities, and for the implementation of technical assistance.Within the general mechanism and the bilateral funds of Norway, Slovenia will be eligible to the total amount of 18,594,000 EUR. On condition that the membership in the EEA shall remain unaltered, these agreements refer to the period of five years – that is until 30 April 2009.
Negotiations on the Participation of New Member States in EEA
Any country becoming a Member State of the European Union must file an application for the accession to the EEA Agreement. Slovenia filed the application on 20 December 2002. The negotiations on the enlargement of the EEA between the delegations of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, the current Member States and the new Member States of the European Union began on 9 January 2003 and concluded with the initialling of the Agreement on 3 July 2003.
The basic position in the negotiations was to reach the agreement upon the adaptations necessary due to the participation of the new Member States of the European Union in the European Economic Area (EEA) with the minimum prejudice to the existing agreements. Therefore the new EU Member States underlined in negotiations the issue of transitional periods agreed upon in the negotiations on the enlargement of the European Union, and attempted to reach the agreement upon additional concessions regarding fish and fishery products as well as agricultural and processed agricultural products. Another aim of the European Union in these negotiations was to achieve the extended and increased financial contribution contributed for the purpose of cohesion by Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
Plenipotentiaries of the European Union Member States and acceding countries signed the Agreement on Participation in EEA on 14 October 2003 in Luxembourg. Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein (EEA-EFTA states) signed the Agreement on 11 November 2003 in Vaduz. It regulates the details related to the accession of the new Member States, including the transfer of protective clauses and transitional periods agreed upon within the negotiations for the accession to the European Union.
Enlargement of European Economic Area
Photo from initialling
European Economic Area (general overview)
EFTA Secretariat (news, seminars, meetings, publications)
Parliamentary Committee of EEC (consisting of members of the European Parliament and members of national parliaments of the EFTA states)