EU legislation directly or indirectly impacts the laws of its member and becomes an integral part of each member’s legal system. Although, formally, Norway is not a member of the EU, the European Union largely determines the policy of the Norwegian state. Thus, being a member of the European Economic Area, the country is obliged to comply with the directives of the EU in the field of trade and social policy. Still, at the same time, not having EU membership, Norwegians cannot influence the decision-making process of Brussels officials.
Even though most of the countries that were members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) are now members of the European Union, the European Economic Area continues to exist, as three countries – Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein want to participate in a single market without accepting the full EU membership. The Agreement on the European Economic Area mainly deals with the four freedoms of the EU internal market – the freedom of movement of goods, services, people, and capital. Schütze (2020) notes that the agreement also covers areas closely related to the four freedoms, such as consumer protection, corporate law, environmental protection, and some aspects of social policy. The states joining the EEA have incorporated the relevant EU rules into their national legislation in these areas.
Cooperation between states within the EEA also extends to areas not directly related to the four freedoms but affecting socio-economic development, including research and innovation, education, social policy, small and medium-sized businesses, tourism, information services, and civil rights protection. The agreement gives non-EU countries the right to participate in negotiations with the European Commission but does not allow them to vote in decision-making. Thus, since the law affecting the rights of EU citizens and their family members who come to live and engage in economic activity in Norway falls within the scope of the EEA, this legislation may be limited by EU law.
Schütze, R. (2020). An introduction to European law (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press.