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The European Economic Area Agreement: A Case of Legal Pluralism

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In the article the author discusses the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement in light of theories of constitutional and legal pluralism. The author begins with a presentation of the EEA Agreement and compares it with the European Union (EU) legal order. It is pointed out that one of the differences between the two legal regimes is the fact that the EU law principle of direct effect is not applicable in EEA law. Since there is no provision in the EEA Agreement which hinders the establishment of direct effect in EEA law, the author seeks to find the deeper explanation for the rejection of the principle. This leads into an elaboration of the pragmatic concept of law. An important feature of this concept of law is the dominant role of the will of the legislator. This constitutional set-up is also reflected in the concept of sovereignty, which is one leading rational of the EEA Agreement. Being in the squeeze between the two rationalities of the EEA Agreement: sovereignty and homogeneity, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Court has been willing to take into consideration contextual particularities. This contextual or legal pluralistic approach is a result of an implicit and explicit judicial dialogue, which secures the legitimacy of the EFTA Court and the EEA Agreement.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Law, University of Oslo, Norway/EUI, Florence


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