EEA stands for European Economic Area. Created in 1994, the EEA combines the countries of the European Union and member countries of EFTA (European Trade Association).
Countries that belong to the EEA are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.
Countries that are EEA member countries but NOT part of the European Union are: Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein.
Keep in mind: Switzerland, while a member of EFTA, is neither in the EU nor in the EEA.
Finland, Sweden, and Austria did not join the European Economic Area until 1995. Some expected Iceland to join the European Economic Area in 2013 or later. Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Economic Area in 2007, and Croatia joined in early 2014.
The purpose of the European Economic Area is the participation in the European Market trade and movement, without having to apply to be one of the EU member countries. In part, Scandinavian customs regulations apply to citizens from all EEA countries.
Explained in Depth
The European Economic Area is a free trade zone between the European Union and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). In 1992, member states of the EFTA (except Switzerland) and members of the EU entered into this agreement and by doing so expanded the European internal market to Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway, for a total of 31 countries at that point.
Trade agreement details include liberties on products, person, service, and money movement between countries. The European Economic Area includes what amounts to approximately 372 million people and in its first year, generated an estimated USD 7.5 trillion alone.
Today, the European Economic Area hands its organization to several divisions, including legislative, executive, judicial, and consultation, all of which include representatives from several member states of the EEA.
Image shows current European Economic Area countries in dark blue, with 2008 data.