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EEA Countries / Countries of the European Economic Area 2023

The European Economic Area (EEA) is an economic zone encompassing the member countries of the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Established in 1992 by the "Agreement on the European Economic Area", the EEA established a free trade relationship between the European Union and three member countries of the EFTA, effectively making the EFTA countries part of the EU's collective "common market" and enabling free movement of the "four freedoms": goods, capital, services, and people.

Member Countries of the European Economic Area (EEA):

Czech RepublicGreeceLiechtensteinPolandSweden

History of EEA memberships

The EEA Agreement was signed on May 2, 1992 by nineteen countries, eighteen of which are current members of the EEU. Twelve additional members signed between 1992 and 2014. However, the ratification process may take several years to reach completion. This fact is evidenced by Croatia, which signed in 2014 but has not yet been fully ratified.

The EEA is currently composed of all 27 EU countries (including Croatia, which enjoys provisional status while its membership awaits full ratification) and the three EFTA countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. Switzerland, the remaining current EFTA member, had initially applied to join the EEA, but its citizens voted against joining. Instead, Switzerland has established a number of bilateral agreements that enable it to participate in the EU common market. To date, the United Kingdom is the only country to leave the EEA. The UK departure occurred on 31 January of 2020 and coincided with the UK's exit from the EU as part of the country's overall "Brexit" plan.

European Economic Area membership requirements, oversight, and benefits

According to the EEA Agreement, any state that is a part of the European Union or the European Free Trade Association can be a member of the EEA. Additionally, two regulators, the European Commission and the European Free Trade Association Surveillance Authority, and two courts, the Court of Justice of the European Union and the Court of Justice of the European Free Trade Association States, govern the EEA.

Citizens of each member country are positively affected by the EEA beyond trade. The EEA Agreement includes the freedom to move product, person, service and money from one EEA country to another at will. This includes allowing citizens of any member country to travel freely to other member countries. Those who relocate to another member country still retain their citizenship in their home country. EEA regulations govern the coordination between countries to maintain each country’s governments and economies, which is fundamental to enabling people to move freely.

Note: Croatia's membership is provisional as of 2022, pending the ratification of its 2014 admission agreement by all relevant political parties.

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How many countries are in European Economic Area?

The European Economica Area includes 30 countries that are part of either the European Union or the European Free Trade Association.

Frequently Asked Questions