Kirk Zeller , DBA


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European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Area (EFTA)

The European Economic Community (EEC) which included Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and The Netherlands was established on the same day the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957 (Smith 1996, Roney 2000). The EEC was also known as the “Common Market.” Denmark, UK, and Ireland joined the EEC in 1973. Greece then joined in 1981 and the Spain and Portugal joined in 1986. Austria, Finland, and Sweden joined in 1995 (Roney 2000). The 1993 European Economic Area treaty included non-EU member countries Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechenstein as countries that require the CE Mark. These 15 countries, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, made up the EU-15 which became the EU-25 in May 2004. The ten new members are: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovak Republic, and Slovenia. Medical devices that receive CE Mark approval can be sold in the entire European Free Trade Area (EFTA) which in addition to the original EU-15 and the ten new member states includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.

There are now 20 official languages and around 35 minority languages in the EU (Marchant 2003, Roney 2000). The three most used languages in Europe and numbers of speakers are as follows: German 98 million, French 62.8 million, and English 61.9 million (Eves 1999). English as a second language is studied by over 80% of students in the EU-15 (Eves 1999). The EU was founded on four fundamental freedoms: Persons, services, goods, and capital (Kinsbergen 2000, Palm 2003). The EU may expand further in the future and current candidates for EU membership include Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, and Turkey. Bulgaria and Romania could join as early as 2007.


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