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Internal Market: Iceland's “4+1 rule” in basketball is a violation of the EEA Agreement




Basketball players of other EEA nationalities should have the same rights to employment as Icelandic players. The Icelandic “4+1 rule” that was introduced by the Icelandic basketball association requires a club to have no more than one foreign player on the court in a match. The Reasoned Opinion that the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) sent to Iceland today concludes that this is a violation of the EEA Agreement.


“One of the fundamental aspects of the EEA Agreement is the free movement of workers, which allows Icelanders to work in other EEA countries and enjoy their rights there. The agreement is mutual and a basketball player from another EEA state playing in Iceland should have the same rights as an Icelandic player,” says Helga Jónsdóttir, ESA College Member. 

The free movement of workers allows workers to move to another EEA state and have access to employment without discrimination. When a sport constitutes an economic activity and takes on the form of gainful employment, it falls within the scope of the free movement of workers and is subject to EEA law. Foreign basketball players should therefore have the same rights to employment as Icelandic players. The “4+1 rule” discriminates based on nationality and that is a violation of the EEA Agreement.

ESA sent Iceland a letter of formal notice this summer setting out its concerns, and giving Iceland three months to respond. After an extension of the deadline, the Icelandic Government has not yet responded. ESA has now issued a Reasoned Opinion, which is the second step in an infringement procedure against an EEA State. Iceland is now given two months to express its views, after which ESA may decide to refer the case to the EFTA Court.

For further information, please contact:

Ms. Rut Einarsdóttir
Communications Department
tel. +32 2 286 18 97
mob. +32 492 25 90 38


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