The EEA Agreement
Parties to the EEA Agreement are all EU Member States and the EFTA Members Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway (Switzerland has not ratified the EEA Agreement). The objective of the Agreement, which entered into force on 1 January 1994, is to establish a dynamic and homogeneous European Economic Area, based on common rules and equal conditions of competition. The competition provisions of the EEA Agreement mirror those of the European Union. Articles 53, 54 and 59 of the EEA Agreement are virtually the same as Articles 101, 102 and 106 TFEU. The provisions are applicable if trade between one or more EU Member States and one or more EFTA Member States which have ratified the Agreement (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) is affected.
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The EEA Agreement is enforced by two surveillance authorities: by the Commission and by the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA). However, there is no concurrent competence between the Commission and ESA; the Agreement foresees only alternative jurisdiction (“one stop shop”). The division of jurisdiction between the two Authorities is laid down in Article 56 of the EEA Agreement (details see below). The basic rules for the division of jurisdiction in antitrust cases are: The Commission is always competent to apply the competition provisions of the EEA Agreement when to a given set of facts also Articles 101, 102 or 106 are applicable. In those cases where only the EEA Agreement is applicable (e.g. in a case when only trade between Sweden and Norway is affected), the division of competence is decided on 'centre of gravity basis' which is mainly based on turnover criteria.
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The Commission and the ESA always decide for the whole of the EEA, i.e., for all Member States plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. It is evident that in case the EEA Agreement is applicable all documents drawn up by the Commission (requests for information, statements of objections, decisions, etc) should not only cite Articles 101 or 102 of the TFEU but also the respective provisions of the EEA Agreement.
When the Commission applies the competition provisions of the EEA Agreement it uses its existing procedural rules, i.e. Reg. 1/2003. The legal basis for this can be found in Article 5 of Council Regulation 2894/94.
- Information about EEA Agreement in the Antitrust Manual of Procedures for the application of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU (Internal DG Competition)
- Information about EEA Agreement in EU Competition Procedure, 3rd. Edition, Edited by Luis Ortiz Blanco (Oxford University Press)