Structure of Europe’s Free Trade Area Experiment
The European Free Trade Association, established by the Stockholm Convention in May 1960, had seven founding members—the United Kingdom; Sweden, Norway and Denmark; Austria and Switzerland; and Portugal. The United Kingdom alone accounted for half the area’s population and its dominant position was to mark the Association both positively and negatively. The smaller members of EFTA frequently expressed their disappointment at Britain’s lack of leadership and team spirit, but although the United Kingdom probably did not make as much of the EFTA connection as it might have done, it did not use its dominant position to crush all initiatives coming from elsewhere and did not attempt to mould the Association into a particular form. The way was therefore clear for initiatives, which came mostly from the smaller members and the EFTA Secretariat. Between them, the smaller members of EFTA and the Secretariat provided sufficient impetus to keep the Association moving along the road to integration well after the last of the tariffs disappeared, by exploring the implications of free trade for the harmonization or coordination of other policies.
KeywordsFree Trade Majority Vote Stockholm Convention Free Trade Area Small Member
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