When the EEA came into force in 1994, there were 17 states and two European Communities: the European Community, which was later integrated into the enlarged EU framework, and the European Coal and Steel Community, which no longer exists. The number of members has increased to 30 in 2020: 27 EU Member States and three of the four EFTA Member States (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway).  The agreement will be applied provisionally to Croatia – the rest and the youngest EU Member State – until all parties to the EEA have ratified its accession.   The United Kingdom is, on a temporary basis, a member of the EEA on 31 January 2020 and has joined a transitional period until 31 December 2020. During the transitional period, the EEA agreement remains unchanged and continues to apply to other EEA members and the United Kingdom, as the UK continues to be regarded as an EEA state.  One EFTA member, Switzerland, did not join the EEA, but concluded a series of bilateral sectoral agreements with the EU allowing it to participate in the internal market. In November 2012, after the Council of the European Union requested an assessment of the EU`s relations with the European micro-sovereign states of Andorra, Monaco and San Marino, which they described as “fragmented”, the European Commission published a report outlining possible options for their 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: 1) a sectoral approach with separate agreements with each state covering a comprehensive political area, 2) a comprehensive and multilateral framework agreement (FAA) with the three countries, 3) membership of the EEA and 4) EU membership. The Commission argued that the sectoral approach does not address the major problems and is still unnecessarily complicated, while EU membership has been rejected in the near future because “the EU institutions are not suitable for the accession of these small countries”. The other options, EEA membership and an FAA with the States, proved feasible and were recommended by the Commission. One of the key features of the EEA agreement, which distinguishes it most from other international agreements under international law, is that its common rules are constantly updated by adding new EU legal provisions.
This is essential in view of the great results of EU internal market legislation. Every two weeks, EEA legislation is incorporated into the EEA agreement by decision of the EEA Joint Committee. However, when the EEA was created in 1994, several developments hampered its credibility.