The European Free Trade Association

The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is the intergovernmental organisation of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. It was set up in 1960 by its then seven Member States for the promotion of free trade and economic integration between its members.

The main tasks of the Association are threefold:

  • Maintaining and developing the EFTA Convention, which regulates economic relations between the four EFTA States;
  • Managing the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA Agreement), which brings together the Member States of the European Union and three of the EFTA States – Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – in a single market, also referred to as the “Internal Market”.
  • Developing EFTA’s worldwide network of free trade agreements.
 
Mission
The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is an intergovernmental organisation set up for the promotion of free trade and economic integration to the benefit of its four Member States – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – and the benefit of their trading partners around the globe. 
 
Member States
The four EFTA States are all open, competitive economies committed to the progressive liberalization of trade in the multinational arena as well as in free trade agreements. 
 
History

EFTA was founded by the Stockholm Convention in 1960. Relations with the EEC, later the European Community (EC) and the European Union (EU), have been at the core of EFTA activities from the beginning. Since the beginning of the 1990s, EFTA has actively pursued trade relations with third countries in and beyond Europe. Read more about EFTA through the years.

 
Key Figures
The four EFTA States are open, developed economies with trade figures that are substantially higher than might be expected from a total of less than 14 million people. EFTA is the ninth largest trader in the world in merchandise trade and the fifth largest in trade in services. EFTA is the third most important trading partner in goods for the EU and the second most important when it comes to services. 
 
Annual Budget
EFTA’s budget is prepared in two currencies: Swiss francs (CHF) and euros (EUR). The total budget for 2016 was equivalent to CHF 21 677 000 and the EFTA Secretariat has fewer than 90 employees. Three of the four EFTA States contribute to cohesion in the European Union through a separate arrangement, the EEA and Norway Grants. The EFTA’s budget is prepared according to the framework budgeting principle used by the Member States’ public administrations. This approach aims to increase awareness of budgetary spending at all levels.