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European community

EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AREA

The results of the Swiss referendum on 6 December were such that the agreement on the European Economic Area was not able to come into force as planned on I January. Under the terms of the accord, if one of the contracting parties fails to ratify, the other contracting parties have to call a diplomatic conference to look at the possibilities of adopting a protocol setting out the necessary amendments.

The Commission, the Council and the other EFTA States (Austria, Finland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Sweden) made it clear that they were still committed to the EEA, which they wanted to see come into being soon.

If the procedure is to be speeded up and any further ratification complication avoided, the protocol which the other contracting parties sign will have to be confined to provisions made absolutely essential by the Swiss non-ratification.

The Commission has therefore sent the Council a draft recommendation for a decision authorising it to embark on negotiations with the EFTA States, other than Switzerland, with a view to an additional protocol to the EEA accord.