European Free Trade Association

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The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) was established as an alternative for European states that did not wish to join the European Community. At one time its membership included Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Portugal, Austria, Sweden and Finland, but these nations progressively left it to join the European Community. Today only Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein remain members.

All of its members today except for Switzerland are members of the European Economic Area (EEA). The Swiss electorate voted against Switzerland joining the EEA, but it remains a member of EFTA, and is linked to the European Union by bilateral agreements similar in content to the EEA agreement.

EFTA has the following instititutions: the Secretariat, the EFTA Surveillance Authority, the EFTA Council and the EFTA Court.

The EFTA Surveillance Authority and the EFTA Court are EEA institutions, and hence Switzerland does not participate in them.


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