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European Commission - Press release
Successful start of Iceland's membership negotiations with the EU
Brussels, 27 June 2011 - The first four chapters of negotiations on Iceland's accession to the EU were opened at the intergovernmental conference today and two of these chapters have been already provisionally closed.
Stefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, said: "This accession conference marks an important step forward in Iceland's accession process. I am pleased that at this early stage of negotiations we open four and even close two negotiating chapters, and I am confident that this achievement provides momentum to meet the challenges of the accession process."
The EU's common negotiating positions were presented at the conference by the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, in response to those of the Icelandic government. The chapters in question cover public procurement, information society and media, science and research, as well as education and culture. In these areas Iceland has already taken on a large part of EU legislation due to its membership in the European Economic Area. Simultaneously, negotiations on two chapters – science and research and education and culture – were provisionally closed in view of Iceland's advanced state of preparedness.
The conference also marks the successful conclusion of the screening process – an in-depth analysis and comparison of the EU's and Iceland's rules and legislation – and the beginning of a new phase in which substance and detail are negotiated.
In their common positions, the EU Member States lay out the obligations that Iceland has to fulfil before negotiations on a policy chapter can be provisionally closed. No such obligations were presented in the chapters on science and research or on education and culture: Iceland has already successfully participated in EU research, education, and culture programmes for more than 16 years. Therefore, these negotiating chapters were opened and provisionally closed at the same time.
The screening process, which forms the technical preparations necessary for negotiations on specific chapters, lasted from November 2010 to June this year. During this process the EU laws were described to Iceland while Iceland described how their legislation compares.
Based on the information received during screening, the Commission assesses Iceland's preparedness in each negotiating chapter and recommends next steps in individual chapters. As with all candidates, negotiations are based on the country's own merits, and their pace will depend on Iceland’s progress in meeting the requirements of membership. The Commission will continue to provide Iceland with all necessary technical support to facilitate the process of negotiations.
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