European Free Trade Association

The European Free Trade Association (or EFTA) is a free trade organisation between four European countries that operates parallel to, and is linked to, the European Union (EU). The EFTA was established on 3 May 1960 as a trade bloc-alternative for European states who were either unable or unwilling to join the then-European Economic Community (EEC) which has now become the EU. The Stockholm Convention, establishing the EFTA, was signed on 4 January 1960 in the Swedish capital by seven countries (known as the "outer seven").

Today's EFTA members are Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland—the latter two being founding members. The initial Stockholm Convention was superseded by the Vaduz Convention, which provides for the liberalisation of trade among the member states.

EFTA states have jointly concluded free trade agreements with a number of other countries. Three of the EFTA countries are part of the European Union Internal Market through the Agreement on a European Economic Area (EEA), which took effect in 1994; the fourth, Switzerland, opted to conclude bilateral agreements with the EU. In 1999, Switzerland concluded a set of bilateral agreements with the European Union covering a wide range of areas, including movement of persons, transport, and technical barriers to trade. This development prompted the EFTA states to modernise their Convention to ensure that it will continue to provide a successful framework for the expansion and liberalization of trade among themselves and with the rest of the world.

Read more about European Free Trade Association:  Political History, Membership History, Current Members, General Secretaries, Institutions, Portugal Fund, International Conventions, Relationship To The European Economic Area, International Relationships, Future, EFTA and The European Union

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