The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is a regional trade organisation and a free trade area made up of four European countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.  The organisation works in parallel with the European Union (EU) and the four Member States participate in the European single market and are part of the Schengen area.  However, they are not parties to the customs union of the European Union. Article 126 of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement provides for a transitional period until 31 December 2020. Article 129 of the withdrawal agreement states that, during the transitional period, the UNITED Kingdom is bound by obligations under international agreements concluded by the EU, including the EEA agreement. EEA-EFTA states have agreed to treat the UK as an EU member state during this period. As a result, the rights and obligations set out in the EEA agreement between the United Kingdom and the EEA-EFTA states apply until 31 December 2020. Article 56.3 of the EFTA agreement stipulates that a new EFTA Member State „requests membership of free trade agreements between Member States on the one hand and third countries, state organisations or international organisations, on the other.“ As a member of a customs union, a country that joins EFTA has not been able to fulfil this obligation. EFTA membership does not exclude the establishment of a customs agreement with the EU; existing EFTA countries regulate their relations with the EU through different instruments. 1977 Creation of the EFTA Parliamentary Committee. Tariffs on industrial goods are abolished between the EEC and EFTA states. Migration – The EFTA Convention guarantees the free movement of people between Member States. This would also apply between the UK and the current EFTA states in the event of the UK`s accession to EFTA.
Switzerland and the United Kingdom have concluded and signed several agreements in areas such as trade, migration, air services, road transport, financial services and citizens` rights. These agreements will be in effect pending the negotiation and entry into force of a new free trade agreement. Due to Liechtenstein`s participation in Swiss customs territory, parts of these agreements have also been extended to Liechtenstein. 2007 With the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU, an agreement on the enlargement of the EEA is signed. There are currently four multilateral free trade zones in Europe and a former free trade area in recent history. Note that there are also a number of bilateral free trade agreements between states and between trade blocs; and that some states participate in more than one free trade area. What is EFTA doing to prepare for future trade relations with the UK? Can EFTA member states also sign bilateral free trade agreements? The Baltic Free Trade Area was a free trade agreement between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which was concluded between 1994 and 2004. 1966 The free movement of industrial products is fully accepted between EFTA states.
In 1972, Denmark and the United Kingdom left EFTA to join the European Economic Community (EEC). The other EFTA states signed bilateral free trade agreements with the EEC in the 1970s. The EFTA secretariat does not participate in the management of bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU.