Article 56.3 of the EFTA Convention stipulates that a new EFTA Member State “requests membership of free trade agreements between Member States on the one hand and third countries, state associations or international organisations, on the other.” As a member of a customs union, a country that joins EFTA has not been able to fulfil this obligation. EFTA membership does not exclude the establishment of a customs agreement with the EU; existing EFTA countries regulate their relations with the EU through different instruments. EFTA consists of Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland. It provides a framework for free trade between Member States and for free trade agreements with other nations, particularly the 28 EU Member States. The EEA links three of the EFTA states (Norway, Lichtenstein and Iceland) in a single market with EU member states. The Council examines substantive issues, including the development of EFTA relations with third countries and the management of free trade agreements, and examines the relationship with the policy and administration of EU third countries in general. It has a broad mandate to examine possible policies to promote the Association`s overall objectives and to facilitate the development of links with other states, state organizations or international organizations. The Council also manages relations between EFTA states under the EFTA Convention. EEA issues are discussed by the Brussels Standing Committee. In November 2012, after the Council of the European Union requested an assessment of the EU`s relations with Monaco, Andorra and San Marino, which they described as “fragmented”, the European Commission published a report setting out options for further integration into the EU.  Unlike Liechtenstein, which is a member of the EEA through EFTA and the Schengen agreements, relations with these three states are based on a set of agreements covering specific issues. The report examined four alternatives to the current situation: EFTA was historically one of the two dominant trading blocs in Western Europe, but it is now much smaller and closely linked to its historical competitor, the European Union. It was created on 3 May 1960 as an alternative trading bloc for European states that were unable or unable to join the European Economic Community (EEC), then the EU`s main predecessor.
The Stockholm Agreement (1960 establishing EFTA) was signed on 4 January 1960 in the Swedish capital by seven countries (known as the “Seven Outsiders”: Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom).  A revised agreement, the Vaduz Convention, was signed on 21 June 2001 and came into force on 1 June 2002.  Fishing – The EFTA Convention guarantees free trade in fish and other maritime products between Member States. Membership of the UK would therefore mean better market access in the UK than the current EFTA countries. In EFTA countries, openness to trade and access to international markets are the basis of economic growth and general well-being.