Frommelt, Christian (2023): The EFTA States and their (un)complicated relations with the European Union. Gamprin-Bendern (Working Papers Liechtenstein Institute, 84).


On 1 January 1994 – nearly 30 years ago – the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) came into force. It aims to create a homogeneous and dynamic economic area between the mem-ber states of the European Union (EU) and the members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Even today, the EEA Agreement is the most far-reach-ing and institutionalised agreement between the EU and non-member states and can therefore be seen as a benchmark for a privileged partnership with the EU. This article describes how the in-stitutional rules of the EEA and the level of integration of the EEA/EFTA states have changed over time. It shows that developments towards more integration as well as more differentiation can be observed in the EEA. It thus addresses various institutional challenges in the relationship between the EU and associated states.

Keywords: EFTA, differentiated integration, EEA

This paper is published within the framework of the initiative “Exploring Liechtenstein’s and Poland’s Perspectives on European Integration”, supported by the Bilateral Fund of the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism 2014–2021 and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014–2021.