EEA EFTA Prime Ministers and EU council celebrate 25 years of European Economic Area

Published 21-03-2019
At the ceremony in the Europa building, from left: Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, Adrian Hasler, Prime Minister of Liechtenstein, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland, Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway.
On 22 March, the Prime Ministers of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway met leaders of all EU Member States at the European Council, to mark the 25th anniversary of the European Economic Area, the EEA.

In a joint statement, the three Prime Ministers – Katrín Jakobsdóttir (Iceland), Adrian Hasler (Liechtenstein), and Erna Solberg (Norway) – reaffirm their shared values of democracy, individual freedom, the rule of law and human rights, and a common commitment to open societies and open economies.

They also reiterated that the EEA Agreement has, for 25 years, guaranteed equal treatment, legal certainty and predictable conditions for citizens and businesses.

Read the full statement here.

It is the first time in 25 years of the EEA that leaders of all EEA participating countries meet jointly.

Find photos from the meeting and the ceremony here.


At the EEA 25th anniversary ceremony in the Europa building, 

EU Council President Donald Tusk said:

"Today we mark the 25th anniversary of the European Economic Area, which has opened up new opportunities and means of cooperation for its now 31 members. Over these years – together with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein – we have worked as a family, building a better Europe for all our citizens.

And we can be proud of this achievement. The EEA brings us together as equal partners in the internal market, giving access to its four freedoms: of goods, persons, services and capital. It also delivers in other major areas, like research, technological development, environment and culture. Today, within the EEA, more than 500 million people are free to move and travel, to do business and invest with ease, to receive an education, conduct cutting-edge research abroad, while enjoying the safest consumer protections, the highest standards at work and the cleanest environment. We have accomplished this through shared pragmatism, and in a spirit of neighbourly cooperation. And we should never take this for granted.

The EEA Agreement is not a short-term transaction, but a long-term partnership, where everyone contributes, and everyone benefits. In a world of resurgent nationalism and authoritarianism, in which geopolitical tensions create real threats to our citizens, you have stood firmly on the side of wisdom, the rule of law, cooperation and deeper integration among our nations. I would like to thank you for this today."

Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir said:

"I'm honoured to be here as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the EEA Agreement, a cornerstone of Iceland?s relations with Europe.

This Agreement has made us stronger and more diverse, as it connects our nations to the largest common market in the world and ensures equal treatment  for  our  citizens and for our businesses. It guarantees uniform enforcement  through  the  two-pillar  system,  while  also  respecting our national sovereignty. A whole generation of Icelanders, my own generation, now takes it for granted that they can work, travel, live and study anywhere in the EEA.

The EEA also provides a platform for us to cooperate in key areas of common interest,  including the most pressing challenges of our time; climate change, sustainable  development and the promotion of human rights, not least gender equality.

Today this is perhaps an even more important platform than ever as we witness the current challenges to the multilateral system and respect for international law.

I'm very glad to have had the opportunity to celebrate this landmark agreement with my colleagues here today; an agreement that has served us well and should help us meet our common challenges for many years to come. Thank you."

Liechtenstein’s Prime Minister Adrian Hasler said:

"The 25th anniversary of the EEA Agreement is a true milestone of European integration. At the same time, Liechtenstein is celebrating its own anniversary – 300 years. How did we maintain our sovereignty during these turbulent centuries? Our recipe for success was, and remains: building alliances, partnerships, supporting open and free markets as well as democracy and rule of law. Our strength comes not from isolation, but from openness. This is how a small country without natural resources became a high-tech nation – in fact one of the most industrialized nations in Europe.

EEA membership has played a crucial role in this regard – to the benefit of all sides. Almost half of our jobs in Liechtenstein are held by EU citizens! And our companies employ thousands more of workers throughout the EU. Liechtenstein has proven to be a reliable and constructive partner. And we remain committed to our common goal – a prosperous and peaceful Europe! I thank you."

Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg said:

"Today we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the European Economic Area - together. This is an expression of the shared interests and values that bind us together.

The agreement has contributed to securing welfare and jobs – both in the EU and in Norway. At the same time, we need to find answers to the challenges European citizens face. Norway is committed to doing its part.

The Single Market is key to achieving this. We will work to increase European competitiveness. And to create conditions for growth and jobs. We believe in close European cooperation, to find solutions to challenges like climate change and migration, but also social inclusion and injustice. We have also launched an initiative to combat crime in the European labour market.

Doing so is all the more important as populism feeds off discontent and anxiety. We must maintain our citizens’ trust in European cooperation. Thank you."


To the editor, more information on the EEA Agreement:

The Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) was signed in 1992 in Porto, Portugal and entered into force in 1994. It provides for the inclusion of EU legislation covering the four freedoms - the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital - throughout the 31 EEA states. Thus, the EEA extends the EU Internal Market to Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.


#EEA #EEA25Years 


Head of Information and Communication
Secretary-General's Office

Was the content helpful?