European Free Trade Association

The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is a regional trade organization and free trade area consisting of four European states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.[2] The organization operates in parallel with the European Union (EU), and all four member states participate in the European Single Market and are part of the Schengen Area.[3] They are not, however, party to the European Union Customs Union.

EFTA was historically one of the two dominant western European trade blocs, but is now much smaller and closely associated with its historical competitor, the European Union. It was established on 3 May 1960 to serve as an alternative trade bloc for those European states that were unable or unwilling to join the then European Economic Community (EEC), which subsequently became the European Union. The Stockholm Convention, to establish the EFTA, was signed on 4 January 1960 in the Swedish capital by seven countries (known as the "outer seven": Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom).[4]

Since 1995, only two founding members remain, namely Norway and Switzerland. The other five, Austria, Denmark, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom, have joined the EU in the intervening years. The initial Stockholm Convention was superseded by the Vaduz Convention, which aimed to provide a successful framework for continuing the expansion and liberalization of trade, both among the organization's member states and with the rest of the world.

Whilst the EFTA is not a customs union and member states have full rights to enter into bilateral third-country trade arrangements, it does have a coordinated trade policy.[2] As a result, its member states have jointly concluded free trade agreements with the EU and a number of other countries.[2] To participate in the EU's single market, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway are parties to the Agreement on a European Economic Area (EEA), with compliances regulated by the EFTA Surveillance Authority and the EFTA Court. Switzerland has a set of bilateral agreements with the EU instead.

European Free Trade Association

Logo of the European Free Trade Association
Location of the .mw-parser-output .nobold{font-weight:normal}EFTA (green) in Europe (green & dark grey)
Location of the EFTA (green)

in Europe (green & dark grey)

46°57′N 7°27′E / 46.950°N 7.450°E
Largest cityOslo
59°56′N 10°41′E / 59.933°N 10.683°E
Official working
Official languages
of member states
TypeRegional organization, Free-trade area
Member states
• Secretary General
Henri Gétaz
• Council Chair
• Convention signed
4 January 1960
• Established
3 May 1960
• Total
529,600 km2 (204,500 sq mi)
• 2017 estimate
• Density
26.5/km2 (68.6/sq mi)
GDP (PPP)2019 estimate
• Total
$1.0 trillion[1]
• Per capita
GDP (nominal)2019 estimate
• Total
$1.2 trillion[1]
• Per capita
Time zone
• Summer (DST)
Note: Iceland observes WET all year, while Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland observe CET and CEST.



EFTA AELE countries and former members
  EFTA member states
  Former members, now EU member states
  Rest of EU member states

On 12 January 1960, the Treaty on the European Free Trade Association was initiated in the Golden Hall of the Prince's Palace of Stockholm.[5] This established the progressive elimination of customs duties on industrial products, but did not affect agricultural or fisheries products.

The main difference between the early EEC and the EFTA was that the latter did not operate common external customs tariffs unlike the former: each EFTA member was free to establish its individual customs duties against, or its individual free trade agreements with, non-EFTA countries.

The founding members of the EFTA were: Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden], Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. During the 1960s, these countries were often referred to as the "Outer Seven", as opposed to the Inner Six of the then European Economic Community (EEC).[6]

Finland became an associate member in 1961 and a full member in 1986, and Iceland joined in 1970. The United Kingdom and Denmark joined the EEC in 1973 and hence ceased to be EFTA members. Portugal also left EFTA for the European Community in 1986. Liechtenstein joined the EFTA in 1991 (previously its interests had been represented by Switzerland). Austria, Sweden, and Finland joined the EU in 1995 and thus ceased to be EFTA members.

Twice, in 1973 and in 1995, the Norwegian government had tried to join the EU (still the EEC, in 1973) and by doing so, leave the EFTA. However, both the times, the membership of the EU was rejected in national referenda, keeping Norway in the EFTA. Iceland applied for EU membership in 2009 due to the 2008–2011 Icelandic financial crisis, but has since dropped its bid.[7]

Current members

Contracting party Accession Population[8]
Area (km²) Capital GDP in millions (PPP)[note 1] GDP per capita (PPP)[note 1]
 Iceland 1 January 1970 332,474 103,000 Reykjavík 12,831[9] 39,223[9]
 Liechtenstein 1 January 1991 37,666 160.4 Vaduz 3,545[note 2] 98,432[note 2]
 Norway 3 May 1960 5,254,694 385,155 Oslo 265,911[10] 53,470[10]
  Switzerland 3 May 1960 8,401,739 41,285 Bern 363,421[11] 45,417[11]

Former members

State Accession Left EFTA and
joined EU/EEC
 Austria 1960 1995
 Denmark 1960 1973
 Finland 1986 1995
 Portugal 1960 1986
 Sweden 1960 1995
 United Kingdom 1960 1973

Other negotiations

Members of the European Union (blue) and
EFTA (green)

Between 1994 and 2011, EFTA memberships for Andorra, San Marino, Monaco, the Isle of Man, Turkey, Israel, Morocco, and other European Neighbourhood Policy partners were discussed.[12]

Monaco, Andorra and San Marino

In November 2012, after the Council of the European Union had called for an evaluation of the EU's relations with Monaco, Andorra and San Marino, which they described as "fragmented",[13] the European Commission published a report outlining the options for their further integration into the EU.[14] Unlike Liechtenstein, which is a member of the EEA via the EFTA and the Schengen Agreement, relations with these three states are based on a collection of agreements covering specific issues. The report examined four alternatives to the current situation:

  1. A Sectoral Approach with separate agreements with each state covering an entire policy area.
  2. A comprehensive, multilateral Framework Association Agreement (FAA) with the three states.
  3. EEA membership, and
  4. EU membership.

However, the Commission argued that the sectoral approach did not address the major issues and was still needlessly complicated, while EU membership was dismissed in the near future because "the EU institutions are currently not adapted to the accession of such small-sized countries". The remaining options, EEA membership and a FAA with the states, were found to be viable and were recommended by the Commission. In response, the Council requested that negotiations with the three microstates on further integration continue, and that a report be prepared by the end of 2013 detailing the implications of the two viable alternatives and recommendations on how to proceed.[15]

As the EEA memberships are currently only open to the EFTA or EU members, the consent of the existing EFTA member states is required for the microstates to join the EEA without becoming members of the EU. In 2011, Jonas Gahr Støre, then Foreign Minister of Norway which is an EFTA member state, said that EFTA/EEA membership for the microstates was not the appropriate mechanism for their integration into the internal market due to their different requirements from those of large countries such as Norway, and suggested that a simplified association would be better suited for them.[16] Espen Barth Eide, Støre's successor, responded to the Commission's report in late 2012 by questioning whether the microstates have sufficient administrative capabilities to meet the obligations of EEA membership. However, he stated that Norway was open to the possibility of EFTA membership for the microstates if they decide to submit an application, and that the country had not made a final decision on the matter.[17][18][19][20] Pascal Schafhauser, the Counsellor of the Liechtenstein Mission to the EU, said that Liechtenstein, another EFTA member state, was willing to discuss EEA membership for the microstates provided their joining, did not impede the functioning of the organization. However, he suggested that the option direct membership in the EEA for the microstates, outside of both the EFTA and the EU, should be considered.[19] On 18 November 2013, the EU Commission concluded that "the participation of the small-sized countries in the EEA is not judged to be a viable option at present due to the political and institutional reasons," and that, Association Agreements were a more feasible mechanism to integrate the microstates into the internal market.[21]


The Norwegian electorate had rejected treaties of accession to the EU in two referendums. At the time of the first referendum in 1972, their neighbour, Denmark joined. Since the second referendum in 1994, two other Nordic neighbours, Sweden and Finland, have joined the EU. The last two governments of Norway have not advanced the question, as they have both been coalition governments consisting of proponents and opponents of EU membership.


Since Switzerland rejected the EEA membership in a referendum in 1992, more referendums on EU membership have been initiated, the last time being in 2001. These were all rejected. Switzerland has been in a customs union with fellow EFTA member state and neighbour Liechtenstein since 1924.


On 16 July 2009, the government of Iceland formally applied for the EU membership,[22] but the negotiation process had been suspended since mid-2013, and in 2015 the foreign ministers wrote to withdraw its application.

Faroe Islands

In mid-2005, representatives of the Faroe Islands raised the possibility of their territory joining the EFTA.[23] According to Article 56 of the EFTA Convention, only states may become members of the EFTA.[24] The Faroes are a constituent country of the Kingdom of Denmark, and not a sovereign state in their own right.[25] Consequently, they considered the possibility that the "Kingdom of Denmark in respect of the Faroes" could join the EFTA, though the Danish Government has stated that this mechanism would not allow the Faroes to become a separate member of the EEA because Denmark was already a party to the EEA Agreement.[25]

The Faroes already have an extensive bilateral free trade agreement with Iceland, known as the Hoyvík Agreement.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom was a co-founder of EFTA in 1960, but ceased to be a member upon joining the European Economic Community. The country held a referendum in 2016 on withdrawing from the EU (popularly referred to as "Brexit"), resulting in a 51.9% vote in favour of withdrawing. A 2013 research paper presented to the Parliament of the United Kingdom proposed a number of alternatives to EU membership which would continue to allow it access to the EU's internal market, including continuing EEA membership as an EFTA member state, or the Swiss model of a number of bilateral treaties covering the provisions of the single market.[26]

In the first meeting since the Brexit vote, EFTA reacted by saying both that they were open to a UK return, and that Britain has many issues to work through. The president of Switzerland Johann Schneider-Ammann stated that its return would strengthen the association.[27] However, in August 2016 the Norwegian Government expressed reservations. Norway's European affairs minister, Elisabeth Vik Aspaker, told the Aftenposten newspaper: "It’s not certain that it would be a good idea to let a big country into this organization. It would shift the balance, which is not necessarily in Norway’s interests."[28]

In late 2016, the Scottish First Minister said that her priority was to keep the whole of the UK in the European single market but that taking Scotland alone into the EEA was an option being "looked at".[29] However, other EFTA states have stated that only sovereign states are eligible for membership, so it could only join if it became independent from the UK[30], unless the solution scouted for the Faroes in 2005 were to be adopted (see above).

In early 2018, British MPs Antoinette Sandbach, Stephen Kinnock and Stephen Hammond all called for the UK to rejoin EFTA.[31]


EFTA is governed by the EFTA Council and serviced by the EFTA Secretariat. In addition, in connection with the EEA Agreement of 1992, two other EFTA organisations were established, the EFTA Surveillance Authority and the EFTA Court.


The EFTA Council is the highest governing body of EFTA. The Council usually meets eight times a year at the ambassadorial level (heads of permanent delegations to EFTA) and twice a year at Ministerial level. In the Council meetings, the delegations consult with one another, negotiate and decide on policy issues regarding EFTA. Each Member State is represented and has one vote, though decisions are usually reached through consensus.

The Council discusses substantive matters, especially relating to the development of EFTA relations with third countries and the management of free trade agreements, and keeps under general review relations with the EU third-country policy and administration. It has a broad mandate to consider possible policies to promote the overall objectives of the Association and to facilitate the development of links with other states, unions of states or international organisations. The Council also manages relations between the EFTA States under the EFTA Convention. Questions relating to the EEA are dealt with by the Standing Committee in Brussels.


The day-to-day running of the Secretariat is headed by the Secretary-General, Henri Gétaz, who is assisted by two Deputy Secretaries-General, one based in Geneva and the other in Brussels. The three posts are shared between the Member States. The division of the Secretariat reflects the division of EFTA's activities. The Secretariat employs approximately 100 staff members, of whom a third are based in Geneva and two thirds in Brussels and Luxembourg.

The Headquarters in Geneva deals with the management and negotiation of free trade agreements with non-EU countries, and provides support to the EFTA Council.

In Brussels, the Secretariat provides support for the management of the EEA Agreement and assists the Member States in the preparation of new legislation for integration into the EEA Agreement. The Secretariat also assists the Member States in the elaboration of input to EU decision making.

The two duty stations work together closely to implement the Vaduz Convention's stipulations on the intra-EFTA Free Trade Area.

The EFTA Statistical Office in Luxembourg contributes to the development of a broad and integrated European Statistical System. The EFTA Statistical Office (ESO) is located in the premises of Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Union in Luxembourg, and functions as a liaison office between Eurostat and the EFTA National Statistical Institutes. ESO's main objective is to promote the full inclusion of the EFTA States in the European Statistical System, thus providing harmonised and comparable statistics to support the general cooperation process between EFTA and the EU within and outside the EEA Agreement. The cooperation also entails technical cooperation programmes with third countries and training of European statisticians.


The EFTA Secretariat is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, but also has duty stations in Brussels, Belgium and Luxembourg City, Luxembourg. The EFTA Surveillance Authority has its headquarters in Brussels, Belgium (the same location as the headquarters of the European Commission), while the EFTA Court has its headquarters in Luxembourg City (the same location as the headquarters of the European Court of Justice).

Relationship with the European Union: the European Economic Area

In 1992, the EFTA and the EU signed the European Economic Area Agreement in Oporto, Portugal. However, the proposal that Switzerland ratify its participation was rejected by referendum. (Nevertheless, Switzerland has multiple bilateral treaties with the EU that allow it to participate in the European Single Market, the Schengen Agreement and other programmes). Thus, except for Switzerland, the EFTA members are also members of the European Economic Area (EEA). The EEA comprises three member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and 28 member states of the European Union (EU), including Croatia which is provisionally applying the agreement pending its ratification by all EEA countries.[32][33] It was established on 1 January 1994 following an agreement with the European Community (which had become the EU two months earlier).[34] It allows the EFTA-EEA states to participate in the EU's Internal Market without being members of the EU. They adopt almost all EU legislation related to the single market, except laws on agriculture and fisheries. However, they also contribute to and influence the formation of new EEA relevant policies and legislation at an early stage as part of a formal decision-shaping process. One EFTA member, Switzerland, has not joined the EEA but has a series of bilateral agreements, including a free trade agreement, with the EU.

The following table summarises the various components of EU laws applied in the EFTA countries and their sovereign territories. Some territories of EU member states also have a special status in regard to EU laws applied as is the case with some European microstates.

EFTA member states and territories Application of EU law EURATOM European Defence Agency Schengen area EU VAT area EU Customs Union EU single market Eurozone
 Iceland Partial No No Yes No No With exemptions, in EEA[35] No, ISK
 Liechtenstein Partial No No Yes No, Swiss–Liechtenstein VAT area No, Swiss–Liechtenstein customs territory With exemptions, in EEA[35] No, CHF
 Norway, except: Partial No Participating non‑member state Yes No No With exemptions, in EEA[35] No, NOK
Svalbard Partial No Demilitarised No[36] No, VAT free[note 3] No No[35][37][38] No, NOK
Bouvet Island No No Participating No No No No No, NOK
Peter I Island No No Demilitarised No No No No No, NOK
Queen Maud Land No No Demilitarised No No No No No, NOK
  Switzerland, except: Partial Participating associated state[39] No Yes No, Swiss–Liechtenstein VAT area No, Swiss–Liechtenstein customs territory With exemptions, not in EEA[note 4] No, CHF
Samnaun-coa.png Samnaun Partial Participating with Switzerland[39] No Yes No, VAT free No, Swiss–Liechtenstein customs territory With exemptions, not in EEA[note 4] No, CHF
Council of EuropeSchengen AreaEuropean Free Trade AssociationEuropean Economic AreaEurozoneEuropean UnionEuropean Union Customs UnionAgreement with EU to mint eurosGUAMCentral European Free Trade AgreementNordic CouncilBaltic AssemblyBeneluxVisegrád GroupCommon Travel AreaOrganization of the Black Sea Economic CooperationUnion StateSwitzerlandIcelandNorwayLiechtensteinSwedenDenmarkFinlandPolandCzech RepublicHungarySlovakiaGreeceEstoniaLatviaLithuaniaBelgiumNetherlandsLuxembourgItalyFranceSpainAustriaGermanyPortugalSloveniaMaltaCyprusIrelandUnited KingdomCroatiaRomaniaBulgariaTurkeyMonacoAndorraSan MarinoVatican CityGeorgiaUkraineAzerbaijanMoldovaArmeniaRussiaBelarusSerbiaAlbaniaMontenegroNorth MacedoniaBosnia and HerzegovinaKosovo (UNMIK)
A clickable Euler diagram showing the relationships between various multinational European organisations and agreements.

EEA institutions

A Joint Committee consisting of the EEA States plus the European Commission (representing the EU) has the function of extending relevant EU law to the non EU members. An EEA Council meets twice yearly to govern the overall relationship between the EEA members.

Rather than setting up pan-EEA institutions, the activities of the EEA are regulated by the EFTA Surveillance Authority and the EFTA Court. The EFTA Surveillance Authority and the EFTA Court regulate the activities of the EFTA members in respect of their obligations in the European Economic Area (EEA). Since Switzerland is not an EEA member, it does not participate in these institutions.

The EFTA Surveillance Authority performs a role for EFTA members that is equivalent to that of the European Commission for the EU, as "guardian of the treaties" and the EFTA Court performs the European Court of Justice-equivalent role.

The original plan for the EEA lacked the EFTA Court or the EFTA Surveillance Authority: the European Court of Justice and the European Commission were to exercise those roles. However, during the negotiations for the EEA agreement, the European Court of Justice informed the Council of the European Union by way of letter that it considered that it would be a violation of the treaties to give to the EU institutions these powers with respect to non-EU member states. Therefore, the current arrangement was developed instead.

EEA and Norway Grants

The EEA and Norway Grants are the financial contributions of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to reduce social and economic disparities in Europe. They were established in conjunction with the 2004 enlargement of the European Economic Area (EEA), which brought together the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway in the Internal Market. In the period from 2004 to 2009, €1.3 billion of project funding was made available for project funding in the 15 beneficiary states in Central and Southern Europe. The EEA and Norway Grants are administered by the Financial Mechanism Office, which is affiliated to the EFTA Secretariat in Brussels.

International conventions

EFTA also originated the Hallmarking Convention and the Pharmaceutical Inspection Convention, both of which are open to non-EFTA states.

International trade relations

Map of free trade agreements between EFTA and other countries
  Free trade agreement
  Ongoing free trade negotiation
  European Economic Area
  Declaration on cooperation or dialogue on closer trade relations

EFTA has several free trade agreements with non-EU countries as well as declarations on cooperation and joint workgroups to improve trade. Currently, the EFTA States have established preferential trade relations with 24 states and territories, in addition to the 28 member states of the European Union.[40]

EFTA's interactive Free Trade Map gives an overview of the partners worldwide.[41]

Free trade agreements


Ongoing free trade negotiations

Declarations on cooperation or dialogue on closer trade relations

Travel policies

Free movement of people within the EEA

EFTA member states' citizens enjoy freedom of movement in each other's territories in accordance with the EFTA convention.[47] EFTA nationals also enjoy freedom of movement in the European Union (EU). EFTA nationals and EU citizens are not only visa-exempt but are legally entitled to enter and reside in each other's countries. The Citizens’ Rights Directive[48] (also sometimes called the "Free Movement Directive") defines the right of free movement for citizens of the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes the three EFTA members Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein plus the member states of the EU. Switzerland, which is a member of EFTA but not of the EEA, is not bound by the Directive but rather has a separate bilateral agreement on free movement with the EU.

As a result, de facto, a citizen of an EFTA country can live and work in all the other EFTA countries and in all the EU countries, and a citizen of an EU country can live and work in all the EFTA countries (but for voting and working in sensitive fields, such as government / police / military, citizenship is often required, and non-citizens may not have the same rights to welfare and unemployment benefits as citizens).[49]

Dual citizenship

Since each EFTA and EU country can make its own citizenship laws, dual citizenship is not always possible. Of the EFTA countries, Iceland[50] and Switzerland allow it (in Switzerland, the conditions for the naturalization of immigrants vary regionally), but Norway only in exceptional cases, and Liechtenstein only for citizens by descent, but not for foreigners wanting to naturalize.

Some non-EFTA/non-EU countries do not allow dual citizenship either, so immigrants wanting to naturalize must sometimes renounce their old citizenship.

See also multiple citizenship and the nationality laws of the countries in question for more details.

General secretaries

State Name Year
 United Kingdom Frank Figgures 1960–1965
 United Kingdom John Coulson 1965–1972
 Sweden Bengt Rabaeus 1972–1975
  Switzerland Charles Müller 1976–1981
 Norway Per Kleppe 1981–1988
 Austria Georg Reisch 1988–1994
 Iceland Kjartan Jóhannsson 1994–2000
  Switzerland William Rossier 2000–2006
 Norway Kåre Bryn 2006-2012
 Iceland Kristinn F. Árnason 2012–2018
  Switzerland Henri Gétaz 2018-present


Portugal Fund

The Portugal Fund was came intooperation in February 1977 when Portugal was still a member of EFTA.[51] It was to provide funding for the development of Portugal after the Carnation Revolution and the consequential restoration of democracy and the decolonization of the country's overseas possessions. This followed a period of economic sanctions by most of the international community, which left Portugal economically underdeveloped compared to the rest of the western Europe. When Portugal left EFTA in 1985 in order to join the EEC, the remaining EFTA members decided to continue the Portugal Fund so that Portugal would continue to benefit from it. The Fund originally took the form of a low-interest loan from the EFTA member states to the value of US$100 million. Repayment was originally to commence in 1988, however, EFTA then decided to postpone the start of repayments until 1998. The Portugal Fund has now been dissolved.

See also


  1. ^ a b in international dollars (rounded)
  2. ^ a b Liechtenstein, Infobox
  3. ^ Svalbard treaty
  4. ^ a b Through multiple sectoral agreements


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External links

Canada–European Free Trade Association Free Trade Agreement

The Canada–European Free Trade Association Free Trade Agreement is a trade agreement between Canada and the member states of the European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein). Signed in Davos, Switzerland on January 26, 2008, it came into effect on July 1, 2009. The agreement is aimed at eliminating all tariffs on goods between Canada and EFTA members.

In 1999, Canada entered into free trade negotiations with the EFTA. Negotiations concluded successfully in June 2007, and the FTA between Canada and the EFTA States was signed on January 26, 2008. Bilateral Agreements on Agriculture between Canada and each EFTA State were appended to the CEFTA. Both came into effect on July 1, 2009. The agreement eliminates almost all tariffs, with certain agricultural and fishery products being excluded from immediate tariff elimination.Bilateral trade totaled $10.7 billion in 2006 (With Canadian imports from the EFTA valued at $7.6 billion and Exports to the EFTA at $3.1 Billion). Investments between the EFTA and Canada are valued at $22 billion in 2006. The agreement is Canada's first free trade agreement with any European nation.

Economy of Iceland

The economy of Iceland is small and subject to high volatility. In 2011, gross domestic product was US$12.3bn; by 2017 that had increased to a nominal GDP of US$24bn. With a population of 350,000, this is $50,000 per capita, based on purchasing power parity (PPP) estimates. The financial crisis of 2007–2010 produced a decline in GDP and employment that has since been reversed entirely by a recovery aided by a tourism boom starting in 2010. Tourism accounted for more than 10% of Iceland's GDP in 2017. After a period of robust growth, Iceland's economy is slowing down according to an economic outlook for the years 2018–2020 published by Arion Research in April 2018.Iceland has a mixed economy with high levels of free trade and government intervention. However, government consumption is less than other Nordic countries. Hydro-power is the primary source of home and industrial electrical supply in Iceland.In the 1990s Iceland undertook extensive free market reforms, which initially produced strong economic growth. As a result, Iceland was rated as having one of the world's highest levels of economic freedom as well as civil freedoms. In 2007, Iceland topped the list of nations ranked by Human Development Index and was one of the most egalitarian, according to the calculation provided by the Gini coefficient.From 2006 onwards, the economy faced problems of growing inflation and current account deficits. Partly in response, and partly as a result of earlier reforms, the financial system expanded rapidly before collapsing entirely in a sweeping financial crisis. Iceland had to obtain emergency funding from the International Monetary Fund and a range of European countries in November 2008.

Economy of Liechtenstein

The economy of Liechtenstein is based roughly equally on services (especially financial services) and industry, with a small but significant agricultural sector. The country participates in a customs union with Switzerland and uses the Swiss franc as its national currency. It imports more than 85% of its energy requirements. Liechtenstein has been a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) since 1991 (previously its interests had been represented by Switzerland). It also has been a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) since May 1995 and participates in the Schengen Agreement for passport-free intra-European travel.

Economy of Norway

The economy of Norway is a developed mixed economy with state-ownership in strategic areas. Although sensitive to global business cycles, the economy of Norway has shown robust growth since the start of the industrial era. The country has a very high standard of living compared with other European countries, and a strongly integrated welfare system. Norway's modern manufacturing and welfare system rely on a financial reserve produced by exploitation of natural resources, particularly North Sea oil.According to United Nations data for 2016, Norway together with Luxembourg (a small state) and Switzerland are the only three countries in the world with a GDP per capita above US$70,000 that are not island nations nor microstates.


Eonia (Euro Overnight Index Average) is computed as a weighted average of all overnight unsecured lending transactions in the interbank market, undertaken in the European Union and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries by the Panel Banks. It is reported on an ACT/360 day count convention and is displayed to three decimal places. "Overnight" means from one TARGET day (i.e. day on which the Trans-European Automated Real-time Gross Settlement Express Transfer system is open) to the next. The panel of reporting banks is the same as for Euribor, and a list is provided by the overseers of the publication of the index. There is no clear definition of 'interbank market' leading to the potential of subjective assessment of what is an 'interbank loan', albeit all panel banks are subject to the Eonia Code of Conduct.

Eonia reference rates are calculated by the European Central Bank, based on all overnight interbank assets created before the close of RTGS systems at 6pm CET, and published through GRSS (Global Rate Set Systems) every day before 7pm CET. It can be found under the ISIN identifier EU0009659945.

European Economic Area

The European Economic Area (EEA), which was established via the EEA Agreement in 1992, is an international agreement which enables the extension of the European Union (EU)'s single market to non-EU member parties. The EEA links the European Union member states and three European Free Trade Association states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) into an internal market governed by the same basic rules. These rules aim to enable free movement of labour, goods, services, and capital within the European Single Market, including the freedom to choose residence in any country within this area. The EEA was established on 1 January 1994 upon entry into force of the EEA Agreement. The contracting parties are the European Union (EU), its member states, and three EFTA member states.However, the EEA Treaty is a commercial treaty and differs from the EU Treaties in certain key respects. The EFTA members do not participate in the Common Agricultural Policy or the Common Fisheries Policy. According to Article 1 its purpose is to "promote a continuous and balanced strengthening of trade and economic relation." Unlike the EU Treaties, there is no mention of "ever closer union".

The right to free movement of persons between EEA member states and the relevant provisions on safeguard measures are identical to those applying between members of the European Union. The right and rules applicable in all EEA member states, including those which are not members of the EU, are specified in Directive 2004/38/EC and in the Agreement on the European Economic Area. The EEA Agreement specifies that membership is open to member states of either the European Union or European Free Trade Association (EFTA). EFTA states which are party to the EEA Agreement participate in the EU's internal market without being members of the EU or the European Union Customs Union. They adopt most EU legislation concerning the single market, with notable exclusions including laws regarding the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy. The EEA's "decision-shaping" processes enable EEA EFTA member states to influence and contribute to new EEA policy and legislation from an early stage. Third country goods are excluded for these states on rules of origin.

When entering into force in 1994, the EEA parties were 17 states and two European Communities: the European Community, which was later absorbed into the EU's wider framework, and the now defunct European Coal and Steel Community. Membership has grown to 31 states as of 2016: 28 EU member states, as well as three of the four member states of the EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). The Agreement is applied provisionally with respect to Croatia—the remaining and most recent EU member state—pending ratification of its accession by all EEA parties. One EFTA member, Switzerland, has not joined the EEA, but has a series of bilateral agreements with the EU which allow it also to participate in the internal market.

European Free Trade Association Surveillance Authority

The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) monitors compliance with the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway; the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) States which are a part of the EEA Agreement, allowing them to participate in the Internal Market of the European Union.

ESA operates independently of the EFTA States and seeks to protect the rights of individuals and market participants who find their rights infringed by rules or practices of the EFTA States or companies within those states. ESA monitors the timely implementation of EEA law (such as directives and regulations) by the EFTA States and may investigate whether national legislation or practices are in line with EEA law. Such an investigation may lead to the launching of formal infringement proceedings against an EFTA State, a three-step procedure which may result in ESA referring the case to the EFTA Court.

ESA is based in Brussels (Belgium) with over 70 employees of 17 different nationalities, and its working language is English. Enterprises and individuals can, however, address ESA in any official EFTA language.

Frank Edward Figgures

Sir Frank Edward Figgures KCB CMG (5 March 1910 – 27 November 1990) was a British civil servant, noted as the first secretary-general of the European Free Trade Association from 1960 to 1965. In this position he promoted a more united Europe through economic cooperation.Figgures served as a soldier in World War II. In 1946 he served as under-Secretary to HM Treasury, helping in Britain's recovery effort, and from 1948 to 1951 he served as Director of Trade and Finance for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. He served in various other treasury positions before heading the EFTA in 1960.

Hans Schaffner

Hans Schaffner (16 December 1908 in Interlaken – 26 November 2004) was a Swiss politician and member of the Swiss Federal Council (1961–1970).

He was elected to the Swiss Federal Council on 15 June 1961 and handed over office on 31 January 1970. He is affiliated to the Free Democratic Party. After receiving a degree in law, he entered the federal civil service as the head of the Division in charge of wartime economy (1941). In 1954, he became Director of the Trade Division of the Economic Affairs Department. With the president of the Board of Trade Reginald Maudling, he was during a meeting of non EEC countries in the Alabama Room in Geneva, one of the initiators of the European Free-Trade Association (EFTA) in December 1958.

During his time in office he headed up the Department of Economic Affairs and was President of the Confederation in 1966. During that year, Switzerland became a member of GATT. He prepared measures in favour of agriculture, a new law about labour relations and measures against inflation. After retirement, he held positions in several Boards of directors (Sandoz, Rieter, Câbleries de Cossonay). He fought for liberal and free-trade values.

Icelandic passport

Icelandic passports are issued to citizens of Iceland for the purpose of international travel.

Inner Six

The Inner Six, or simply "the Six", were the six founding member states of the European Communities. They were in contrast to the outer seven who formed the European Free Trade Association rather than engage in supranational European integration. Five of the Outer Seven later joined the European Communities.

John Coulson (diplomat)

Sir John Eltringham Coulson (1909–1997) was a British diplomat who was ambassador to Sweden and secretary-general of EFTA.

Coulson was born 13 September 1909. He was educated at Rugby School and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He joined the Diplomatic Service in 1932. He served at Bucharest, Paris, New York and Washington, DC, before being appointed Ambassador to Sweden 1960–1963. He was then Deputy Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office 1963–1965, Chief of Administration of HM Diplomatic Service briefly from January to September 1965, and Secretary-General of the European Free Trade Association 1965–1972. He died 15 November 1997.

Leif Sevón

Leif Jörgen Arvidsson Sevón (born 31 October 1941) is a Finnish jurist and judge.

Liechtenstein passport

Liechtenstein passports are issued to nationals of Liechtenstein for the purpose of international travel. The passport may also serve as proof of Liechtensteiner citizenship.

List of bilateral free-trade agreements

This is list of free-trade agreements between two sides, where each side could be a country (or other customs territory), a trade bloc or an informal group of countries.

Note: Every customs union, common market, economic union, customs and monetary union and economic and monetary union is also a free-trade area.

For fully multilateral agreements (not included below) see: List of multilateral free-trade agreements.

For a general explanation, see free-trade area.

Norwegian passport

Norwegian Passports are issued to nationals of Norway for the purpose of international travel. The passport may also serve as proof of Norwegian citizenship and is valid for ten years. The passport shares the standardised layout of most EU countries, as Norway has implemented the EU passport regulation. The colour is burgundy-red and similar, but not identical to the design of most EU countries. Despite the fact Norway is not part of the EU, the country is a signatory of the Schengen Agreement and a member state of the European Economic Area (EEA). Consequently, Norwegian citizens generally have the same rights as EU citizens in EEA countries and are treated as EU citizens for the purposes of travel and entry into EEA countries.

Partnership for Peace

The Partnership for Peace (PfP) is a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) program aimed at creating trust between NATO and other states in Europe and the former Soviet Union; 21 states are members. It was first discussed by the Bulgarian Society Novae, after being proposed as an American initiative at the meeting of NATO defense ministers in Travemünde, Germany, on October 20–21, 1993, and formally launched on January 10–11, 1994 NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium. According to declassified U.S. State Department records, President Bill Clinton characterized the Partnership for Peace as a "track that will lead to NATO membership" and that "does not draw another line dividing Europe a few hundred miles to the east."

Swiss passport

A Swiss passport is the passport issued to citizens of Switzerland to facilitate international travel. For travel within Europe, Swiss citizens can use an identity card with few exceptions.

Transatlantic Free Trade Area

A Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) is a proposal to create a free-trade agreement covering Europe and North America, on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Such proposals have been made since the 1990s. Since 2013 an agreement between the United States and the European Union (EU) has been under negotiation: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. If an agreement is reached and ratified on both sides, it could at least in theory be expanded to include the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Canada and Mexico both have free trade agreements with both the EU and EFTA.

Members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA)
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