The EFTA EEA arrangement, also known as the “Norway option”, is generally viewed as the least disruptive alternative to full EU membership, as it grants near-total access to the EU internal market. 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.
The main text of the EEA Agreement has never been substantially amended, 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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