Article | Last updated: 2017-01-05 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Under the EEA Agreement, Norway and Norwegians have the same rights and obligations as other EEA countries and their citizens when it comes to trade, investments, banking and insurance, and buying and selling services. They also have the same right to work, study and live in other countries in the EEA.
The European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement brings together the 28 EU member states and the three EFTA states Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein in an internal market governed by the same basic rules. It guarantees the EU Single Market's four freedoms, as well as non-discrimination and equal rules of competition throughout the EEA area.
The EEA Agreement also covers cooperation in other important areas such as research and development, education, social policy, the environment, consumer protection, tourism and culture. It ensures the three EEA Efta states participation in a number of EU programmes and agencies and entitles Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein to second national experts to the Commission.
The four freedoms
The principle of free movement of goods ensures that products originating in an EEA state may circulate freely within the internal market. Customs duties and quantitative restrictions on trade in such products are prohibited within the EEA.
Through the free movement of persons, all EEA nationals have the right to work in any other EEA state. Students, pensioners and people not in paid employment also have the right to reside in another EEA state.
Under the EEA Agreement individuals and companies enjoy freedom of establishment and the right to provide services across the EEA on equal terms.
The free movement of capital enables cross-border investment by residents and companies in the EEA, without discrimination on grounds of nationality, place of residence or place of establishment. Citizens and companies have the right to transfer money between EEA states, and to open bank accounts, invest in shares and funds, and borrow money in other EEA states.
What the EEA Agreement does not cover
The EEA Agreement does not cover the following EU policies:
- Common Agriculture and Fisheries Policies (although the Agreement contains provisions on various aspects of trade in agricultural and fish products);
- Customs Union;
- Common Trade Policy;
- Common Foreign and Security Policy;
- Justice and Home Affairs (even though the Efta countries are part of the Schengen area); or
- Economic and Monetary Union (EMU)
Same rules and conditions
A central principle of the EEA Agreement is homogeneity, which means that the same rules and conditions of competition apply to all economic operators within the EEA. To maintain homogeneity, the EEA Agreement is continuously updated and amended to ensure that the legislation of the EEA Efta states is in line with EU Single Market legislation.
Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein do not have formal access to the EU decision-making process, but they are able to give input during the preparatory phase, when the Commission draws up proposals for new legislation that is to be incorporated into the EEA Agreement. This includes the right to participate in expert groups and Commission committees. The EEA Efta States also have the right to submit EEA Efta comments on upcoming legislation.
Norway, like Iceland and Liechtenstein, is obliged to let an independent surveillance authority, the Efta Surveillance Authority and, in the last instance, the Efta Court ensure that the Norwegian authorities and Norwegian companies comply with the EEA Agreement.
At the same time, both the EU countries' authorities and the central EU bodies are responsible for ensuring that our rights are respected in the EU.