Efta Countries Party to the Eea Agreement

EFTA Countries Party to the EEA Agreement: An Overview

The European Economic Area (EEA) is a dynamic and prosperous economic zone that provides free trade and movement of goods, services, and people between its member states. The EEA was established in 1994 and currently has 31 member states, including the 27 European Union (EU) member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. However, not all EEA countries are part of the EU or use the euro as their currency.

In this article, we will focus on the four EFTA countries that are party to the EEA agreement: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. These countries have unique relationships with the EU and the EEA, and their participation in this economic integration process reflects their strategic interests and priorities.


Iceland became a member of the EEA on 1 January 1994, the same day as the EEA`s establishment. Iceland is not a member of the EU, but it is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which it joined in 1970. Iceland also participates in Schengen cooperation, which allows passport-free travel between its member states.

Iceland`s economy relies heavily on fishing and tourism, and it has a small population of around 360,000 people. The country has been hit by major economic crises in the past, including the 2008 financial crisis, which led to the collapse of its banking system and a severe recession. However, Iceland has shown remarkable resilience and recovery in recent years and has become a popular destination for eco-tourism and renewable energy projects.


Liechtenstein is a microstate located between Switzerland and Austria, with a population of around 38,000 people. It joined the EEA in 1995, the same year as Austria, Finland, and Sweden. Like Iceland, Liechtenstein is not a member of the EU, but it is a member of EFTA. It also participates in the Schengen cooperation.

Liechtenstein`s economy is heavily oriented towards services, including banking, insurance, and wealth management. The country has a strong legal and regulatory framework, which has made it attractive for foreign investors and companies. However, its small size and limited resources pose challenges to its long-term sustainability and competitiveness.


Norway is the largest and wealthiest of the EFTA countries, with a population of around 5.4 million people. It joined the EEA in 1994, the same year as Iceland, and it is not a member of the EU. Norway is also a member of NATO, the United Nations, and the Council of Europe. Its official currency is the Norwegian krone.

Norway`s economy is highly diversified, with strong sectors in oil and gas, fisheries, shipping, and technology. It has one of the highest GDP per capita in the world and a comprehensive welfare state that provides universal healthcare, education, and pensions. However, Norway faces several challenges, including high living costs, a rapidly aging population, and environmental issues related to its fossil fuel-based economy.


Switzerland is a federal republic located in the heart of Europe, with a population of around 8.5 million people. It is not a member of the EU or the EEA, but it is a member of EFTA. Switzerland participates in the Schengen cooperation but maintains strict controls on immigration and cross-border activities.

Switzerland`s economy is highly developed and diversified, with strong sectors in banking, pharmaceuticals, machinery, and tourism. It also has a stable political and legal system that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship. However, Switzerland faces several challenges, including its position as a high-cost country, the appreciation of its currency, and the need to maintain its competitiveness in a rapidly changing global environment.

In conclusion, the EFTA countries party to the EEA agreement are an important and diverse group of countries that share a commitment to free trade, economic integration, and European cooperation. While their relationships with the EU and the EEA vary, they all face common challenges and opportunities in the global economy. As such, understanding their unique characteristics and roles in the EEA is essential for policymakers, businesses, and citizens alike.