Since the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) entered into force in 1994, the so-called EEA EFTA states Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have concluded several additional bi- or multilateral agreements with the European Union (EU). In this vein, they have substantially extended their legal relations to the EU, making it even harder to clearly define their actual level of integration. There is no doubt that the EEA EFTA states are the most integrated non-member states. The empirical findings of this thesis, however, show that the integration of the EEA EFTA states may be more fragmentary than expected. Legally speaking, as long as the EEA EFTA states have not incorporated an EU act into the EEA Agreement, it is not equally valid for the EU and the EEA EFTA states even though it is an essential part of the EEA’s functional scope. Indeed, the empirical findings show that in over 70 percent of the EU acts that the EEA EFTA states have incorporated into the EEA Agreement since 1994, different compliance dates applied to EU and EEA EFTA states. This brings up a new understanding of external differentiation and its causes. It is mainly relevant for dynamic models of external differentiated integration such as the EEA or the Schengen association of the EFTA states but may also be crucial when discussion other models of differentiated integration such as “Core Europe” or a Europe of “Concentric Circles”.
Project duration: since 2011