The Status of Non-Implemented EEA Law in Iceland: Lessons from the Judicial Reactions of the Supreme Court to International Law

In: Nordic Journal of International Law


In October 2007, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Court confirmed that the doctrines of direct effect and primacy could not be generated by the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement alone. Rather, the effects of non-implemented EEA provisions were to remain in the hands of the EFTA States. Hence, the relevant question is what weight should be accorded to such norms in domestic law? The Icelandic Supreme Court has yet to take a stance on the direct effect question relation to incorrectly or insufficiently transposed EEA law. The issue has, however, been addressed several times in connection with the European Convention on Human Rights, before its incorporation. In order to address the unclear legal status of EEA norms in Icelandic law, this contribution takes a closer look at the judicial attitude of the Supreme Court taken towards international law in general and the Convention in particular. The perceived differences between EEA law and the Convention have made it easy for observers to dismiss such comparison on the grounds that the two kinds of legal regime are not readily comparable. The article questions these apparent differences by pointing out that EEA law in fact shares all of the features of the Convention that led judges to enforce it in the Icelandic legal order.

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