Wednesday, January 7, 2015

European Economic Area

Not every country in Europe is a member of the European Union.  However, just because a country isn't a member of the EU doesn't mean that it is off on its own.  There's also the European Free Trade Association and the European Economic Area (EEA).

The European Free Trade Association is made up of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.  For one reason or another these four countries do not want to be a member of the EU.  Remember, any new country that joins the EU must eventually adopt the Euro as its official currency. 

The European Economic Area brings the EU countries and the EFTA countries together so that they participate in a single market.  The EEA allows for the EFTA countries to remain independent of the EU but still reap most of the benefits.  So even though Norway isn't an EU member, Norwegian citizens can work anywhere in the EU, just like EU citizens can. 

The EEA countries adopt a majority of EU legislation except for laws on agriculture, fisheries, taxation, common foreign or security policy. 

While Switzerland is a member of the EFTA, it is not part of the EEA.  Although Switzerland has signed a number of bilateral agreements, including a free trade agreement with the EU.

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