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Frontpage News 2017 25 years of European cooperation

EEA Agreement_signing 1992
The European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement was signed on 2 May 1992 in Porto in Portugal, and entered into force on 1 January 1994. Photo credit: EFTA Secretariat

25 years of European cooperation

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the EEA Agreement that brought together the EU member countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway as equal partners in the internal market. 

Through the EEA Agreement, we are governed by the same basic rules and legislation as the other EU countries. These rules cover the four freedoms - the free movement of goods, services, people and capital – and applies to all EEA countries.

"Today it has been 25 years since Norway signed the EEA Agreement. This was the day Norway connected herself to the future of Europe. Twenty-five years later it is still crucial for the Norwegian economy and welfare that we have access to the internal market provided by the EEA Agreement.  It is as important today as it was 25 years ago to ensure well-functioning EEA cooperation to safeguard Norwegian welfare and jobs," says Norwegian Minister of EEA and EU Affairs Frank Bakke-Jensen.

"Only as strong as the efforts put into it"

As a result of the Agreement, all EEA countries have the same rights and obligations when it comes to trade and investment, and buying and selling services. Their citizens have the same right to work, study and live in any of the EEA member countries and vice verca. In addition, the Agreement covers cooperation in other important areas such as research and innovation, education, culture and the environment.

"The signing of the EEA Agreement is a significant milestone in the foreign policy of Iceland and its economic development. The Agreement laid the groundwork for a wide-ranging diversification of the Icelandic economy and framed our excellent cooperation with our close European partners. It is remarkable how well the Agreement has adjusted to developments in the internal market throughout this time. This success and strength is a token of the far-sightedness of its creators. The Agreement is only as strong as the efforts put into it. For Iceland the EEA continues to be a bedrock and I look forward to see the EEA with its purpose and internal flexibility, prosper for another quarter of a century," says Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs, Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson.

The significance of the Agreement is confirmed by the Liechtenstein Minister for Foreign Affairs, Aurelia Frick:

"The EEA Agreement has been very positive for Liechtenstein. Today, we are fully integrated into the European Internal Market – a market of more than 500 million people. This is not only key for our export-oriented economy but also for Liechtenstein citizens who work, live and study in the European Union. Due to our EEA Membership, Liechtenstein can also participate in EU Programmes. With this opportunity, our youth benefits for example from Erasmus +. The EEA Agreement has proven to be robust and adaptable to major developments in the EU. We look forward to continuing this mutually beneficial cooperation in the years to come."

The agreements on the EEA and Norway Grants 2014-2021 were signed in May last year. Read more about the priorities, programme areas and next steps.

Levelling the playing field

Through the Agreement, we also share common values and responsibility with other European countries to promote democracy, equality, rule of law, respect for human rights and a decent standard of living for all. This includes a shared goal of working together to reduce economic and social disparities in Europe and strengthen cooperation between European countries.

Efforts to level the playing field by reducing gaps between countries in Europe will contribute to building a stronger and more cohesive Europe, based on equality and solidarity – and for the benefit of all. We contribute to this through the EEA and Norway Grants.

Read more about the contribution of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to reducing disparities and strengthening bilateral relations in Europe.