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Study Notes

European Countries that are outside the European Union

AS, A-Level, IB
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 6 Oct 2023

When teaching the economics of the European Union, there is often a degree of misinformation among students as to which nations that lie within Europe are outside full membership of the European Union. Here is a short summary to help.

Here are some European countries that are not members of the European Union:

  1. Norway: Norway is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), which allows for the free movement of goods, services, capital, and people with EU member states. However, Norway is not a member of the EU's customs union and is not subject to EU laws in the same way that EU member states are.
  2. Switzerland: Switzerland is also a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which allows for the free movement of goods with EU member states, but it is not a member of the EU's single market or customs union. Switzerland is not an EU member.
  3. Iceland: Like Norway and Switzerland, Iceland is a member of the EEA and thus enjoy access to the EU's single market. However, it is not a member of the EU.
  4. Liechtenstein: Like Norway and Iceland, Liechtenstein is also member of EEA and enjoy the benefits of the EU's single market. But it's not a member of EU.
  5. United Kingdom: The UK was a member of EU until January 1, 2020

Note that: European Union is made up of 27 member states - the most recent entrant was Croatia.

Which European countries are candidates for European Union membership?

There are several European countries that are currently candidates for European Union (EU) membership. These countries are in the process of negotiating accession to the EU and working towards meeting the requirements for membership. As of 2021, the current EU candidate countries are:

  1. Albania
  2. Montenegro
  3. North Macedonia
  4. Serbia
  5. Turkey

All of these countries have started accession negotiations with the EU, however, the progress of their accession process varies.

Albania and North Macedonia officially opened accession negotiations in 2020, while Montenegro and Serbia have been in accession negotiations since 2012 and 2014 respectively. Turkey’s accession process has been ongoing for many years, having started negotiations in 1999, but it has made little progress in recent years due to various reasons, including disputes with Greece and Cyprus, and the human rights concerns in the country.

The accession process for these countries is a long and complex one, and it involves meeting a wide range of political, economic, and legal criteria set out by the EU. The countries must demonstrate that they are able to implement and enforce EU laws and regulations, and that they have the institutions and systems in place to do so.

They also need to make sure that their economy and administrative capacity are capable of coping with the demands of EU membership. The accession process is also politically conditioned as well, countries needs to get the support of all current members for the accession and their progress depends on the willingness of existing EU members to admit new members and the domestic political situation of the candidate countries.

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