How to read EU acts incorporated into the EEA Agreement

The EEA Agreement creates a homogenous European Economic Area (EEA) based on common rules and equal conditions of competition. The EEA Agreement is dynamic, meaning it is continuously updated to incorporate EU legal acts that fall within the scope of the Agreement. This ensures common rules across the European Economic Area.




EU legal acts are incorporated into the EEA Agreement by Decisions of the EEA Joint Committee (JCDs) which place acts into one of the Annexes or Protocols to the Agreement.


While the rules are common, provisions of legal acts that are made part of the EEA Agreement may need to be adjusted for the purpose of the EEA Agreement. This may be necessary because the scope and the institutional set-up of the EEA Agreement differ in certain respects from the EU, or because of the specific situation of an EFTA State. Such adjustments are referred to as adaptations. To read a legal act in the EEA context, it is necessary to find out what adaptations may apply.

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Adaptations in the EEA Agreement take one of three forms:


  Horizontal adaptations

  follow from Protocol 1 to the EEA Agreement.

  Sectoral adaptations

  are found in specific Annexes and Protocols to the EEA Agreement.

  Specific adaptations

  apply to individual acts.

It is useful to bear in mind that, although different in name, horizontal, sectoral and specific adaptations all produce the same legal effect in the sense that the act incorporated into the EEA Agreement has to be read in light of these adaptations.



In summary, to read EU legal acts incorporated into the EEA Agreement, you need to take the following steps:


1. Is the EU act incorporated and in force in the EEA Agreement?

2. Check the horizontal adaptations in Protocol 1.

3. Are there sectoral adaptations of relevance in the Annex or Protocol where the act is incorporated?

4. Are there specific adaptations to this act?



Adaptations Webtool


Head of Information and Communication
Secretary-General's Office

+32 498 11 0541

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