Free trade areas in Europe

Free trade areas in Europe

At present, there are two free trade areas (FTAs) in Europe outside of the European Union (EU). The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) was created in 1960 by the outer seven (as a looser alternative to the then-European Communities) but most of its membership has since joined the Communities/EU leaving only four countries still party to it. Following the fall of the Iron Curtain, two FTAs were created in Eastern Europe, the Baltic Free Trade Area (BAFTA) and the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), in order to stabilise these countries for membership of the EU. With the 2004 EU enlargement, the original members of both of these have left these agreements and joined the EU.

While BAFTA has ceased to exist, CEFTA has expanded into southern Europe with members from the Western Balkans and Moldova. All of the new CEFTA countries, except for Moldova, are prospective members of the EU and hence EFTA is the only FTA with a long term future, as there are no immediate plans for these countries to change their present status. However, CEFTA may gain new members in the form of countries to the east of the present EU. [ [,2144,3357563,00.html"EU Looks East as Foreign Policy Council Convenes"] "" 25 May 2008 Link accessed 25/05/08] [ [" Poland, Sweden propose new EU outreach for eastern Europe"] "" 26 May 2008 Link accessed 26/05/08]

ee also

* Norway and the European Union
* Iceland and the European Union
* Switzerland and the European Union
* European Economic Area
* Inner Six/Outer Seven


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