During the transitional period, both the United Kingdom and other EEA members remain bound by existing obligations under international agreements concluded by the EU, including the EEA Agreement.  In January and February 2020, the UK Government ruled out future alignment with internal market rules and virtually ruled out EEA membership at the end of the transitional period.    However, the number of EEA-EFTA members was rapidly reduced: Switzerland decided not to ratify the agreement following a negative referendum on the matter and Austria, Finland and Sweden joined the European Union in 1995. Only Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein remained in the EEA. The ten new Member States that the EU adopted on 1st Bulgaria and Romania, when they joined the Union in 2007, and Croatia in 2013. Switzerland and the United Kingdom have concluded and signed several agreements in the areas of trade, migration, air transport, road transport, financial services and citizens` rights. These agreements will remain in force until a new free trade agreement is negotiated and enters into force. As a result of Liechtenstein`s participation in the Swiss customs territory, parts of these agreements have been extended to Liechtenstein. While intensifying economic relations, the agreements have also created a complex and sometimes inconsistent network of commitments. Bilateral agreements need to be updated regularly and do not have the dynamic character of the EEA Agreement. They also lack effective monitoring agreements or dispute settlement mechanisms. To address these issues, negotiations were launched on 22 May 2014 between the EU and Switzerland for an Institutional Framework Agreement (AFI).
The negotiations aimed to resolve several difficult issues ranging from the conditions applicable to EU service providers in Switzerland to the role of the Court of Justice in dispute settlement. Negotiations for the IFA were concluded at the political level on 23 November 2018. However, the Federal Council was unable to agree on the final text due to Switzerland`s concerns about the lack of consideration of “accompanying measures”  and the adoption of the acquis communautaire in the area of the free movement of persons. It has launched a broad internal consultation with the relevant federal commissions, parties, cantons, social partners and science and research, which will serve as a basis for deciding whether or not to submit the agreement to the Federal Assembly for approval. . . .