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EU Membership Talks Opened With Iceland

February 24, 2010

The European Commission has presented its formal opinion on Iceland’s application for EU membership and recommended opening membership talks with the country today. As part of the European Economic Area, Iceland has already implemented a large share of EU rules, making the possibility of fast-track entry by 2012 or 2013 a realistic expectation.

One of the most problematic issues surrounding Iceland’s membership bid last July has been the country’s damaged relationship with the UK and the Netherlands. This conflict stems from the collapse of the banking system in Iceland, arguably also the principal reason for Iceland’s sudden interest in EU membership. Both countries have indicated they might block membership talks if Iceland’s government does not agree to compensate British and Dutch account holders for losses incurred during the bank crash. Earlier this week, however, Iceland’s finance ministry rejected calls for compensation. The issue is now being investigated by European Free Trade Area surveillance teams and will need to be resolved before Iceland can expect to join the bloc. Another concern to be addressed is that of Iceland’s fisheries, over which it would lose its exclusive rights under EU law.

The negotiations still need the backing of the Union’s 27 member governments, but EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule of the Czech Republic maintains an optimistic view on Iceland’s membership potential, affirming that there are no problems that cannot be handled in the framework of accession talks.

One Comment leave one →
  1. eubeyer permalink
    February 26, 2010 10:35 am

    The New York Times recently reported that the Icelandic Foreign Minister is attempting to meet with the U.S. Secretary of State as Iceland is also having trouble receiving all of its loan from the IMF, perhaps due to the UK and the Netherlands trying to pressure Iceland on resolving the Icesave despute.

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