Brussels, 18 December 2012
EU and Iceland: over two thirds of negotiation chapters now open
At the 8th Intergovernmental Conference on Accession of Iceland held in Brussels today, 6 more negotiation chapters were opened and the competition chapter was provisionally closed. The chapters opened cover the areas of free movement of goods, taxation, regional policy and external relations.
Commenting on the outcome of the conference, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle said: "Negotiations with Iceland are moving steadily forward. As of today the big majority of negotiating chapters have been opened and one third is closed. The progress we have made today is a substantial achievement and at the same time a strong encouragement for the challenging issues still to be negotiated."
This accession conference brings the number of opened negotiation chapters to 27 out of a total of 35, of which one-third has already been closed. Negotiations have progressed steadily in a wide range of policy areas. They have now moved on to the more challenging chapters, such as economic and monetary policy, regional, and environmental policy, opened today, and financial services, opened at the last accession conference in October.
The progress so far is proof of the firm commitment by the Icelandic government and the EU to the accession process. The Commission will continue to facilitate the negotiations and seek solutions that take account of the country's specificities, while respecting the EU principles and the existing legislation of the EU.
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. In the case of the chapters opened today, these obligations mainly concern progress on plans for legislative alignment with EU legislation, preparations for IT systems and EU structural funds.
As with all candidate countries, progress in negotiations is based on the country's own merits, and their pace will depend on Iceland meeting the requirements of membership. The Commission will continue to provide Iceland with all necessary technical support for the negotiation process.