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SPEECH/11/875

Štefan Füle

European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy

Enlargement process on track with 5 more chapters open with Iceland

Third meeting of the Accession Conference with Iceland at Ministerial level

Brussels, 12 December 2011

I am pleased to be part of today's event where we have opened five additional negotiation chapters with Iceland. These chapters cover the areas of Company law, Enterprise and industrial policy, Trans-European networks, Judiciary and Fundamental Rights, and Financial and budgetary provisions.

Perhaps even more importantly, we also already provisionally closed four of these chapters. This demonstrates again the extent to which Iceland shares the values of the European Union and is integrated in its markets. The benefits that Iceland enjoys as a result in terms of job creation and competitiveness can be further enhanced by full integration.

With the EU presently going through difficult times where bold and courageous decisions in the economic and financial area are called for, and where headlines of newspapers almost exclusively focus on worrying news, it is essential that we do not loose sight of what goes well in the enlargement process.

Since the official opening of negotiations in July 2010 so far 11 chapters have now been opened, and 8 of them are already provisionally closed. This is a remarkable achievement and I am very satisfied with the ongoing pace of negotiations with Iceland.

This success would not have been possible without the excellent work of our Icelandic partners and illustrates the strong and persistent commitment of the Icelandic government towards the accession process. The Commission is fully ready to build on this commitment, on this momentum and to help make 2012 a decisive year in Iceland's accession process.

I would also like to thank the Polish Presidency for putting enlargement high on its agenda and to bring the negotiations with Iceland decisively forward. Thanks to these joint efforts, we have succeeded in building up a good and ambitious momentum.

Indeed, today's result and, more broadly, the pace of negotiations across 2011, augur well for our further work. Thanks to the mutual trust gained over the negotiating process and the established methodology, we are ready to move the accession process forward – as thorough as necessary and as fast as possible. These experiences and the established procedures will be an invaluable asset when discussions on more complex chapters intensify.

Today's result also shows that EU membership and the enlargement process remain attractive and a on track.

Our target for 2012 is to facilitate the opening of almost all negotiation chapters and provisionally close as many as possible. This is a very ambitious objective.

Further progress in the negotiations and finally towards accession depends on how well Iceland will be able to demonstrate that it can eventually meet the obligations of EU membership and at the same time enjoy the corresponding benefits. I am confident that with joint and determined efforts, we will be able to find win-win solutions to overcome the challenges ahead.


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