Negotiations on enlarged European Economic Area concluded

Negotiations on the accession of the ten future EU Member States to the European Economic Area (EEA) have been concluded, opening the way to a single market of 25 EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

The EEA is a free-trade zone between the EU and Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, who enjoy the full benefits of the Union's internal market. Negotiations on the accession of the ten future EU Member States to the EEA were launched on 9 January 2003.

The main issue for the negotiations was an increase in the financial contribution of the three non-EU members of the European Economic Area to alleviate structural and social disparities in the enlarged internal market. Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will contribute 600 million euro over five years to the EEA financial mechanism for the alleviation of social and economic disparities in the ten new member states and in Portugal, Spain and Greece. In addition, Norway will provide 567 million euro over five years through a bilateral financial instrument, designed to facilitate the integration of the new Member States in the internal market. Poland will receive nearly half of the money.

Trade in marine products was another key element in the negotiations. Iceland and Norway insisted that their trade in marine products with the acceding countries should continue after enlargement. The EU agreed to substantial quotas for the relevant products (frozen herring, mackerel and shrimps), thus allowing for the continuation of these trade patterns.

The agreement on the enlargement of the EEA is to be signed in July 2003 and is due to enter into force at the same time as the EU Accession Treaty, i.e. 1 May 2004.


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