Whole world recognizes EU or European Union as an alliance of 28 European countries in political and economic realms. The EU countries allow its people, goods, services and capital to move freely within this specific region, also known as Schengen area.

Names of EU Countries:

Here is the alphabetical enlistment of the 28 countries that form the Schengen area;

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.

What is meant by the European Economic Area or EEA?

EEA is an agreement between EU countries, some non-EU countries and the member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), to promote the European market and trade. This union was literally applied on January 1, 1994.  The agreement of EEA declares all the member states as a free trade zone with no limit or boundaries for the movement of their people, money, and products. Every state is free to flourish in the competitive environment of the extended internal market.

In the first year of EEA’s formation, a total of 31 countries were part of it. And with the involvement of about 372 million people, the union of EEA successfully generated about 7.5 trillion USD dollars, which was a remarkable achievement as beginners.

Today, after so many years of its formation, the range of this joint venture is extended to the other sections of life including executive, environment, tourism, culture, research, education, legislative, etc.

Who are the Member States of EEA?

Countries like Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein are not part of the EU but still, these countries are allies in EEA.

Switzerland is neither an EU country nor an EEA country, rather it is a member of EFTA. But still, it has got all the rights to have the facilities provided to all the EEA countries.

According to the EEA agreement (article 128), any country that joins the EU, automatically becomes a member of the EEA agreement.

How EEA functions for its citizens?

There are certain privileges that EEA nationals can enjoy. Some of these areas under;

  • Right to free movement for all belonging to EEA countries.
  • A superb chance to travel, study, work or establish a new business in any of these (EEA) countries.
  • The EEA agreement not just covers equal rights for all but it also discourages any kind of discrimination with their citizens.
  • Be it travel for a permanent relocation or a short stay trip, citizens of EEA countries can move freely and without any restrictions of borders. But the citizens are not allowed to change their original citizenship. In other words, they can live in any of the EEA states but cannot apply for their citizenship.
  • To support and encourage the free movement of the citizens, EEA especially governs and legislate in the field of social security coordination and ensures the presence of a highly qualified team for it.

Areas Not Covered by EEA:

  • Fisheries policies and common agriculture
  • Monetary union (EMU)
  • Common foreign and security policy
  • Home affairs and justice
  • Customs union

Effects of Brexit on EEA Citizens’ Rights:

EU citizens who are currently the residents of the UK will surely be not affected by Brexit. Their status and rights will remain the same till 30th June 2021, if UK discontinues the EU without a deal.

Sum up:

EEA agreement is quite different from the EU agreement. EEA is a purely commercial treaty and deals with a single market and its relevant laws. While the EU is a political as well as economic agreement. All the laws for European Economic Area countries are formed by the EU. Moreover, EEA countries are also required to make some financial contributions to the EU.

 

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