Article | Last updated: 31/03/2021 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Under the EEA Agreement, Norwegians and the Norwegian business sector have the same rights and obligations as citizens and businesses in other EEA countries, for example when it comes to trade, investments, banking and insurance, buying and selling services, and the right to work, study and live in EEA countries.
The main purpose of the Agreement on the European Economic Area, EEA Agreement, is to allow the EEA Efta states (Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein) to participate in the EU's internal market. The internal market encompasses 30 countries in Europe (27 EU member states and three EEA Efta states) and a population of around 450 million. The EEA Agreement entered into force on 1 January 1994.
Common rules – Equal conditions of competition
The internal market was established with a view to removing trade barriers and introducing common rules for the free movement of goods, persons, services, and capital. The EEA is intended to function as a single market in the areas covered by the EEA Agreement. National borders are not to pose obstacles to trade, investments, or free movement.
The internal market is based on common rules that are followed in the same way by all 30 EEA member states. The rights that the EEA Efta states have within the internal market are contingent on the incorporation of EU legal acts into the EEA Agreement as they are adopted.
What is included in the EEA Agreement
Large parts of EU law, including the provisions on the four freedoms and competition rules, were incorporated into the EEA Agreement when it was signed. In addition, The Agreement forms the basis for cooperation in a range of areas, including environmental protection, education, research and innovation, information services, gender equality, statistics, small- and medium-sized enterprises, cultural and media issues, tourism, civil protection, health and consumer issues, labour market issues and social issues
The main text of the EEA Agreement entered into force on 1 January 1994, and the act implementing the main text in Norwegian law was adopted on the same date. The EEA Agreement also consists of annexes and protocols that are continuously updated in line with the development of new EEA-relevant EU rules.
The main text of the EEA Agreement and the annexes and protocols can be found at The EEA Agreement. The main text of the EEA Agreement is static, while the other parts are more dynamic.
Policy areas that are not included
The EEA Agreement does not cover the EU economic and monetary union or the EU common trade policy, development policy, customs union, common agriculture and fisheries policies, justice and home affairs, and common foreign and security policy.
Norway's cooperation with the EU on justice and home affairs is regulated through the Schengen association agreement and other agreements. Norway also cooperates with the EU in the area of foreign and security policy.
Trade in agricultural and fishery products is regulated under specific provisions of the EEA Agreement and in separate, bilateral agreements with the EU.
Participation in EU decision-making processes
The EEA Agreement does not give the EEA Efta states the right to participate in EU decision-making processes, but they are able to provide input during the preparatory phase, when the Commission is drawing up proposals for new legislation that will be incorporated into the EEA Agreement. See here for information about the development of EEA legislation (Norwegian only)
The EEA Agreement also allows EEA Efta states to participate in EU programmes and agencies in a wide range of areas. Participation in EU agencies and programmes is an important element of Norway’s cooperation with the EU.
Monitoring the EEA Agreement
Norway, like Iceland and Liechtenstein, is required to allow the Efta Surveillance Authority, and, in the last instance, the Efta Court, to monitor compliance with EEA rules. This to ensure that the authorities and companies in the EEA Efta states adhere to the EEA Agreement.
Similarly, both the authorities of the EU member states and central EU bodies, such as the European Commission and the European Court of Justice, have an obligation to ensure that the rights of the EEA Efta states are respected in the EU.