September 28th, 2016 by Simon Lafrance
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The EFTA EEA arrangement, also known as the “Norway option”[1], is generally viewed as the least disruptive alternative to full EU membership, as it grants near-total access to the EU internal market[2]. All other existing forms of access are sectoral and individually negotiated, and consequently more limited.

The quid pro quo for access to the single market by EFTA EEA states is a requirement to integrate the entirety of EEA-relevant legislation, in substance the four freedoms – free movement of goods, persons, services and capital – and the five associated “horizontal” policies – social policy, consumer protection, environment, statistics and company law[3].

The main text of the EEA Agreement has never been substantially amended[4], but over time more than 10 000 EEA-relevant acts were incorporated into its 22 thematic Annexes. The legislation governing financial services is contained in Annex IX.

A transition from EU membership to the EEA EFTA arrangement would entail at least two drawbacks of particular importance to financial regulation:

  • No formal say in EU legislation
  • One-year minimum delay in the implementation of EU legislation

No formal say

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