European Free Trade Association (EFTA): To provide a counterweight to the European Economic Community (EEC), Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom founded EFTA on January 4, 1960 which came into force on May 3, 1960. Subsequently Finland, Liechtenstein and Iceland acceded to the Association. In 1973 the UK and Denmark left EFTA and joined the European Community, followed by Portugal in 1986. In due course, Austria (July 17, 1989), Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and Norway also sought membership in the EC. On January 1, 1995 Austria, Sweden and Finland left EFTA to join the European Union (formerly the European Community). The objectives of EFTA are the promotion of economic growth, full employment and higher living standards by the elimination of trade barriers. Unlike the EU, EFTA is not a customs union and does not pursue a common foreign policy. The close economic ties between EFTA and EC resulted in the conclusion of a free trade agreement in 1973. In addition the (then 12) EC member states and the EFTA countries (other than Switzerland) founded the European Economic Area (EEA), which became effective on January 1, 1994. Since January 1, 1995 EFTA membership has been reduced to Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland. In the 1990s free trade agreements were concluded with the Central and Eastern European countries.