The term "Norway Plus" has recently entered the Brexit debate, with proponents of the proposal proposing it as a model for the UK`s future relationship with the EU. In our recent "All EU Need to Know" we explain what the European Free Trade Association and the EEA Agreement are and what "Norway Plus" means. In November 2012, after the Council of the European Union requested an assessment of the EU`s relations with Monaco, Andorra and San Marino, which they described as "fragmented", the European Commission published a report setting out options for further integration into the EU.  Unlike Liechtenstein, which is a member of the EEA through EFTA and the Schengen agreements, relations with these three states are based on a set of agreements covering specific issues. The report examined four alternatives to the current situation: the Foes have already concluded a comprehensive bilateral free trade agreement with Iceland, known as the Hoyvék Agreement. The first objective of EFTA was the liberalisation of trade between its Member States. In 1972, each EFTA state concluded bilateral free trade agreements with the EEC. Currently, 29 free trade agreements are in force in EFTA countries or are awaiting ratification for 40 partner countries around the world (outside Europe). The original agreement required members to implement a timetable for tariff reductions and quota liberalisation for industrial products, but also included leakage provisions when the burden on national economies proved too heavy. Bilateral agreements on the liberalization of agricultural trade have also been foreseen. In 1967, import tariffs on most industrial products were abolished. In 1977, EFTA concluded agreements with the EEC that opened up industrial free trade between the member states of the two organisations. In October 1991, EFTA and EEC members agreed on the creation of a free trade area, the European Economic Area (EEA), which came into force on 1 January 1994.
At that time, Switzerland (which did not ratify the agreement) and Liechtenstein (linked by their association with Switzerland) did not join the EEA, but the following year Liechtenstein became a full member after a series of negotiations with Switzerland. Schengen is not part of the EEA agreement. However, the four EFTA states participate in Schengen and Dublin through bilateral agreements. They apply all the provisions of the acquis in question. Can EFTA member states also sign bilateral free trade agreements? 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.