The European Free Trade Association is a regional trade organization and free trade area consisting of four European states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. The organization operates in parallel with the European Union , and all four member states participate in the European Single Market. They are not, however, party to the European Union Customs Union.
EFTA was historically one of the two dominant western European trade blocs, but is now much smaller and closely associated with its historical competitor, the European Union. It was established on 3 May 1960 to serve as an alternative trade bloc for those European states that were unable or unwilling to join the then European Economic Community . The Stockholm Convention, to establish the EFTA, was signed on 4 January 1960 in the Swedish capital by seven countries . Since 1995, only two founding members remain, namely Norway and Switzerland. The other five, Austria, Denmark, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom, have joined the EU in the intervening years. The initial Stockholm Convention was superseded by the Vaduz Convention, which aimed to provide a successful framework for continuing the expansion and liberalization of trade, both among the organization's member states and with the rest of the world.
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