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Old 07-01-2004, 07:27 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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What is the difference between the EU, EFTA, EEA, and the Council of Europe?

In several recent discussions in GD concerning the recent expansion of the European Union, and the possible admission of Turkey in the future, I have seen several other European international associations mentioned, and I am unclear as to their relationships. There is, apparently:

The European Union

The European Free Trade Association

The European Economic Area

The Council of Europe (which apparently is not the same thing as the EU Parliament)

Can anyone fill me in what these bodies are, and how they relate to each other, and what are the differences between them? Also, are there any others I'm missing?
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  #2  
Old 07-01-2004, 08:03 PM
friedo friedo is offline
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The European Economic Area (also called the Eurozone) is that portion of Europe which uses the Euro currency. That's most of the EU with the exception of the UK and a couple other guys. There are also some non-EU members in it, such as Liechtenstein.

The Council of Europe is distinct from the EU. It goes back to right after WWII and is headquartered in France. (The EU headquarters is in Brussels.) All EU members are also members of the COE, but not all COE members are in the EU. About the COE. Mostly, their job is to sit around and talk at each other a lot.

EFTA is a free trade treaty, kinda like NAFTA. About EFTA.

Clear as mud, eh? Just wait until you try to figure out the six zillion organs of the EU itself. If these guys ever come up with a Constitution, it'll probably be 20,000 pages long.
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Old 07-01-2004, 08:35 PM
MEBuckner MEBuckner is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by friedo
The European Economic Area (also called the Eurozone) is that portion of Europe which uses the Euro currency. That's most of the EU with the exception of the UK and a couple other guys. There are also some non-EU members in it, such as Liechtenstein.
Actually, the European Economic Area is basically the EU plus the EFTA. EFTA is or was a rival free-trade organization to the EU (or back then I suppose it would have been the EEC, European Economic Community). After the UK ditched EFTA and joined up with the EU, the EFTA became much less important. Basically, the EEA allows for free trade between the EU member states and Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, without those countries participating in the full range of EU programs.

As mentioned, not all of the full EU member states have adopted the euro currency. Conversely, several non-EU states (mainly "micro-countries" which never had their own currencies to begin with, but were using pesetas or lira or francs before the introduction of the euro) are now using the euro. (There are also several countries which officially use the U.S. dollar as their currency.)

Here's a handy glossary of EU terms.

There's also something called the "Schengen area", which is a group of countries with a border controls union: once you cross into one Schengen area country, you are free to travel throughout the area without having to clear border controls at the international borders between the participating countries. The Schengen area countries include most (but not all) of the EU member states (the UK and Ireland don't participate in Schengen; and the new former East European EU states haven't been integrated into Schengen, at least not yet). Conversely, Norway and Iceland aren't EU members, but do participate in Schengen (and also, being part of the EFTA/EEA) have free trade with the EU member states.

Then there's the European Space Agency, which technically is a completely separate international organization from the EU (and includes non-EU members Norway and Switzerland, but EU member states Greece and Luxembourg are only just now getting around to joining up).
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Old 07-01-2004, 10:36 PM
friedo friedo is offline
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See? Even I don't get it, and I'm the kind of guy who takes pride in knowing the difference between a city, village and hamlet under New York municipal law.
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Old 07-01-2004, 10:50 PM
MEBuckner MEBuckner is offline
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Hey, my parents lived for several years in Buffalo, and none of us ever did figure all those out.
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