European Economic Area
EEA-wide, the four freedoms of movement of goods , persons , services and capital apply in particular , with special regulations for agricultural goods . Third country goods remain excluded by rules of origin. With around 520 million inhabitants (of which around 505 million were in the EU) from the Arctic to the Mediterranean and an annual economic output of over 19.2 trillion US dollars (as of 2018), it was the largest economic zone in the world. Around half of world trade takes place in the European Economic Area . The EEA Council is tasked with implementing the EEA Agreement and monitoring its provisions.
Already when the EFTA was founded in 1960, regulating the relations between the European Economic Community (EEC) and the EFTA member states was one of the goals of the organization. After the EFTA countries Great Britain and Denmark joined the European Communities together with Ireland in 1973 , a close cooperation developed between the EFTA countries and the EEC. A first important stage was reached when the EFTA states individually concluded free trade agreements with the EEC between 1972 and 1977 .
From the mid-1980s, the degree of economic integration within the EU increased, thanks in particular to the implementation of the internal market program (realization of the four freedoms: free movement of people, goods, services and capital). In 1984 the establishment of a European Economic Area was discussed at a joint ministerial meeting of the EEC and EFTA in Luxembourg (see also European Free Trade Association ) .
After the EC members had laid down the implementation of the goal of an “area without internal borders” by 1992 in the Single European Act , in 1989 EC Commission President Jacques Delors suggested that the seven EFTA states should participate as widely as possible in the EU internal market to enable. In 1990 concrete negotiations began, which ended on May 2, 1992 in Porto with the signing of the Agreement on the European Economic Area (see also European Free Trade Association # 1989-95: EEA and second EC expansion to the north ) .
The contracting parties were the twelve former member states of the European Community (Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Denmark, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Portugal) as well as the seven EFTA states Austria, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden , Switzerland and Liechtenstein. With the exception of Switzerland, all EFTA states have ratified the EEA Agreement, which entered into force on January 1, 1994, but not until May 1, 1995 for Liechtenstein.
The EEA Agreement obliges EU members to apply for membership in the EEA; the EFTA member states are free to apply for membership. Whether the withdrawal of an EEA member from EFTA or the EU also terminates membership in the EEA is not regulated in the contract, but is affirmed by the overwhelming literature opinion with regard to Brexit , which is, however, not undisputed.
British participation in the EEA Agreement (and all other EU external treaties) will continue during the transition period.
The EEA is a deepened free trade area. Furthermore, the EEA Agreement contains competition and some other common regulations, as well as “horizontal” provisions in connection with the four freedoms (social policy, consumer protection, environment, statistics, company law). Furthermore, the relevant secondary law adopted by the EU is adopted for the EEA . EEA law should also be interpreted as “EU-compliant”.
In the EEA, tariffs between Member States have been abolished and around 80% of EU internal market rules apply. However, it is not a customs union with a common customs tariff . Furthermore - unlike within the EU - excise taxes are to be paid on import . Nevertheless, due to the applicability of a large number of harmonization provisions, the EEA is more than a simple free trade area .
For the EEA countries that are not members of the EU, the EEA Agreement and the related regulations are monitored by the EFTA Surveillance Authority and the EFTA Court of Justice . The European Commission and the European Court of Justice are responsible for the EU member states . In this context, one speaks of the “two-pillar structure”. The EEA Agreement is regularly adapted to the development of the relevant EC law (so-called acquis communautaire ). A resolution by the EEA Joint Committee is necessary for this. Since the EEA states send representatives to the expert groups of the EU Commission, they can at least actively participate in the development of the legal provisions in advance.
The EEA treaty assigns tasks to several bodies that have legislative, executive, judicial or advisory functions.
The EEA Council is composed of the representatives of the governments of the member states . It develops guidelines which ensure the implementation of the contractual objectives and which must be observed by the member states. The EEA Joint Parliamentary Committee consists of members of the European Parliament and the parliaments of the EFTA countries. It can express its views in the form of reports or resolutions.
The EEA Joint Committee monitors the implementation of the Treaty by the Member States. In the EU states this task is also the responsibility of the European Commission , in the EFTA states the EFTA monitoring authority .
In the Consultative Committee representatives meet together stakeholders from the Member States. It only has an advisory role.
- May 2, 1992: Signing of the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA Agreement) by the EU, the then twelve EU member states (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and United Kingdom) and the EFTA countries (Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Austria, Switzerland) in Porto
- December 6, 1992: The Swiss voters, with a participation of 78.8 percent, reject entry at the ballot box with 49.7 percent yes votes and only 7 out of 23 cantonal votes.
- January 1, 1994: Entry into force of the EEA Agreement for Finland, Iceland, Norway, Austria and Sweden
- March 17, 1994: Protocol to amend the EEA Agreement, as Switzerland had not ratified the EEA Agreement
- May 1, 1995: Entry into force of the EEA Agreement for Liechtenstein
- October 14, 2003: Signing of the agreement on the first enlargement of the European Economic Area by the EU, the EU candidate countries (Czech Republic, Estonia, Republic of Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia) and the remaining EFTA States (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, but not Switzerland) in Luxembourg
- May 1, 2004: The first enlargement agreement comes into force at the same time as the new signatory states join the EU
- July 25, 2007: Signing of the agreement on the second enlargement of the European Economic Area by the EU, the new EU member states (Bulgaria and Romania) and the remaining EFTA states (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, but not Switzerland) in Brussels
- August 1, 2007: The second enlargement agreement for Bulgaria and Romania came into force seven months after they joined the EU
Implementation in the contracting states
Finland, Sweden and Austria
Finland , Sweden and Austria joined the EU on January 1, 1995. The provisions of the EEA Treaty only came into effect between these countries and the other EU member states from January 1, 1994 to December 31, 1994, after which the EU Treaty took precedence.
The Switzerland has not the only EFTA State the multilateral EEA Agreement ratified after a narrow majority of Swiss citizens and a clear majority of the cantons the participation of Switzerland on 6 December 1992 in a referendum had rejected ( vote result ). Switzerland has observer status in EEA bodies. This enables the confederates to follow the development of EEA and EC law closely. In addition, Article 128 of the EEA Agreement gave Switzerland the option of joining at any time.
The Swiss government pursued since then bilaterally their destination, the country economically to the four freedoms to share with the EEA. In contrast to the EEA Agreement, there are only two negotiating partners in the bilateral negotiations (EU Commission and Swiss government), which enables more specific regulations for Switzerland. Negotiations on sectoral bilateral agreements were started two years after the EEA No, and in 1999 seven bilateral agreements were signed between Switzerland and the European Union , which came into force on June 1, 2002. In 2004, a second package of sectoral agreements (Bilaterals II) was signed, the entry into force of which ended with the actual abolition of personal border controls at Swiss land borders at the end of 2009 (goods controls remain in place). The Council of the European Union decided in December 2012 that there would no longer be any new bilateral agreements based on the model of the previous agreements with Switzerland.
One week after the Swiss “No”, the Liechtenstein people approved membership. The ruling prince had already spoken out in favor of the EEA agreement. Since Liechtenstein also belongs to the Swiss economic area and forms a currency and customs union with Switzerland , the EEA Agreement had to be revised with regard to this overlapping situation, and the Treaty of March 29, 1923 on the connection of the Principality of Liechtenstein to the Swiss customs area was amended . The adaptation protocol to the EEA Agreement received the approval of the people of the Principality of Liechtenstein on April 9, 1995, so that the Agreement for Liechtenstein could come into force on May 1, 1995. However, the EEA Agreement applies to fewer goods for Liechtenstein than for the other member states; this restriction, which was originally limited to January 1, 2000, was initially extended to January 1, 2005, and before this date was reached, it was made permanent from this date.
Bulgaria and Romania
On July 25, 2007, the member states of the EEA, Bulgaria, Romania and the European Union signed an agreement on the participation of the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania in the European Economic Area. It came provisionally into force on August 1, 2007 and in full on November 9, 2011.
Croatia has been a member of the EU since July 1, 2013. On April 11, 2014 signed Agents of the contract parties signed in Porto on 2 May 1992 Agreement on the European Economic Area (the European Union , the Parties to the Treaty on European Union , Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein and the Kingdom of Norway) and the Republic of Croatia in Brussels the agreement on the participation of the Republic of Croatia in the European Economic Area . Also on that day, the plenipotentiaries of the European Union and the Kingdom of Norway signed the Additional Protocol to the Agreement between the Kingdom of Norway and the European Union on a Norwegian financing mechanism for the period 2009-2014 on the occasion of the participation of the Republic of Croatia in the European Economic Area and the plenipotentiaries of the European Union, Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein and the Kingdom of Norway signed the agreement in the form of an exchange of letters on the provisional application of the Agreement on the participation of the Republic of Croatia in the European Economic Area and the provisional application of the associated protocol to the agreement between the Kingdom of Norway and the European Union Union for the period 2009–2014 (the respective authorized representatives also signed two additional protocols and a final act). Article 2 of the Agreement on the Participation of the Republic of Croatia in the European Economic Area contains an adaptation of the main part of the EEA Agreement , which makes the Republic of Croatia a party to the EEA Agreement. According to the Agreement in the form of Exchange of Letters on the provisional application of the Agreement on the participation of the Republic of Croatia in the European Economic Area and the provisional application of the related Protocol to the Agreement between the Kingdom of Norway and the European Union for the period 2009-2014 , the Agreement on the Participation of the Republic of Croatia in the European Economic Area and the Additional Protocol to the Agreement between the Kingdom of Norway and the European Union on the Norwegian Financial Mechanism for the period 2009-2014 provisionally applied from April 12, 2014. The agreement on the participation of the Republic of Croatia in the European Economic Area has so far (as of April 2020) been ratified by 18 of the 32 contracting parties. It will enter into force on the day after the last instrument of ratification or approval of a current contracting party has been deposited, provided that three associated protocols enter into force on the same day.
- Silvan Lipp: Switzerland as a business location in transition. Stages of economic policy in the name of competitiveness. The economic policy of the Swiss Federal Council before and after Switzerland's rejection of joining the EEA. NZZ Libro, Zurich 2012, ISBN 978-3-03823-796-9 .
- Carsten Schymik: Iceland on course for the EU. Accession as a lifeline . In: SWP-Aktuell . No. 24 . Berlin May 2009 ( swp-berlin.org [PDF]).
- Burkard Steppacher: The EFTA states, the EEA and Switzerland . In: Werner Weidenfeld, Wolfgang Wessels (Ed.): Yearbook of European Integration 2011 (= Yearbook of European Integration ). Nomos, Baden-Baden 2012, ISBN 978-3-8329-6276-0 , p. 329-332 .
- Official Journal of the European Communities . OJ 1994 L 1/1. . In:
- 1993 amendment protocol to the EEA Agreement in the Liechtenstein Law Gazette (due to Switzerland not joining)
- Adopted Joint Committee Decisions , EFTA (decisions of the EEA Joint Committee since 1994)
- EEA legal collection (PDF; 1.9 MB) of the EEA staff unit of the government of the Principality of Liechtenstein (regularly updated directory of the EEA acquis)
, accessed on December 19, 2017 . In: EUR-Lex . European Union , accessed and received on December 19, 2017 ( Official Journal of the European Union L 170 of June 11, 2014, p. 2). Croatia joins the EEA . In: www.efta.int . European Free Trade Association (EFTA), April 11, 2014, accessed and received on January 13, 2018.
- A European Economic Area from the Arctic to the Mediterranean . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , January 4, 1994. Published online by CVCE , August 13, 2011.
- EEA - European Economic Area 2019. Retrieved on October 2, 2019 .
- Article 128, Paragraph 1 of the EEA Agreement: “Any European state that becomes a member of the Community and any European state that becomes a member of the EFTA can apply to become a party to this agreement. He directs his application to the EEA Council. "
- Ulrich G. Schroeter , Heinrich Nemeczek : “Brexit”, but “rEEAmain”? The Effects of Withdrawal on UK EEA Membership . In: JuristenZeitung . 72nd year, no. 14 , 2017, ISSN 0022-6882 , p. 713–718 , doi : 10.1628 / 002268817X14968308908668 (with further evidence).
- The EU and Switzerland in search of good ideas . NZZ Online , December 20, 2012.
- Agreement on the participation of the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania in the European Economic Area
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- Agreement on the participation of the Republic of Croatia in the European Economic Area. Retrieved July 4, 2017 .