Brussels, 27 July 2010
EU opens accession negotiations with Iceland
The first intergovernmental conference on the accession of Iceland to the European Union was held in Brussels today, formally opening accession negotiations with this country. The Belgian Presidency delivered the EU Negotiating Framework, which outlines the principles, substance and procedures guiding the negotiations with Iceland, thus paving the way for the upcoming accession talks between Iceland and the EU.
Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner Stefan Füle said: "The opening of accession negotiations today marks a new chapter in the history of our relations with Iceland. Accession should be a win-winsituation for both sides. For Iceland, it will mean economic and monetary stability and a voice at the EU decision making table. For the EU, it will mean we become stronger in dealing with the Arctic region and in areas such as renewable energy and climate change."
Before actual chapter by chapter negotiations start between Iceland and the EU Member States, the 'screening' process will provide an in-depth analysis of the EU rules and regulations with which the country must comply (the so-called acquis). This process, estimated to last from November this year to mid-2011, will allow Iceland to familiarise itself with the acquis and the Commission to assess how prepared Iceland is for EU membership. Once screening has been completed, individual chapters can be opened for negotiations between the EU Member States and Iceland.
In the framework of the IPA (Instrument for Pre-Accession), the Commission will continue to support Iceland's accession process through pre-accession funding to help the country further align its laws with the acquis, as well as providing objective information on the EU and its policies.
The Negotiating Framework is the core reference for the accession negotiations with a candidate country. It points out areas where special efforts are necessary to fulfil the accession criteria, which in the case of Iceland include fisheries, agriculture and rural development, environment, free movement of capital, and financial services.
Iceland is the third country with which the EU is currently negotiating accession, after Croatia and Turkey, which both opened accession negotiations in 2005.