The government has expressed a desire to join the convention, but this requires the agreement of all existing signatories: the EU, Denmark (which has an opt-out in this area and is itself a signatory), Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. 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. Secondly, the agreement between the UK and the EU, as well as the agreement between the UK and the EU, ensures that social security measures for citizens` rights – which guarantee continued access to pensions, health care and social protection – adapt to changes in EU social security legislation. The UK must also enter into trade agreements with EEA members. It has already concluded a continuity agreement with Liechtenstein regarding its agreement with Switzerland (part of EFTA, but not of the EEA).
But it is not yet an equivalent with Iceland and Norway. The EFTA Court of Justice or the EFTA Supervisory Authority did not have the original plan for the EEA, as the “EEA Tribunal” (composed of five members of the European Court of Justice and three members of EFTA countries, which would be functionally integrated into the ECJ) and the European Commission would have to carry out these tasks. However, during the negotiations on the EEA agreement, the European Court of Justice informed the Council of the European Union (Opinion 1/91) that an EEA jurisdiction over EU law, which was part of EEA law, would constitute a treaty violation, and the current regime was therefore developed. After negotiations on the Authority, the ECJ confirmed its legality in Opinion 1/92. “This is a temporary agreement as we conclude the more ambitious free trade agreement we are negotiating on,” the source said, saying that “excellent progress” has been made towards a free trade agreement with the EFTA bloc next year. The agreement is concluded before the day of withdrawal and, with the EU withdrawal agreement, it is governed by EU law (withdrawal agreement). However, the rights and obligations of the EEA agreement and other international agreements with these countries will continue to apply to the United Kingdom during the transposition period.