Iceland, the almost bankrupt Artic State, may soon apply to join the EU:
“The EU prefers two countries joining at the
same time rather than individually. If Iceland
applies shortly and the negotiations are rapid, Croatia and Iceland could join the EU in parallel. … It is one of the oldest democracies in the
world and its strategic and economic positions would be an asset to the EU,”
Olli Rehn, the European commissioner in charge of enlargement, told The Guardian on the 30th of
miniscule size is also presented as an advantage in the sense that the EU’s
constitutional architecture can easily absorb it. This is true although one may
note, for instance, that the current rule of one Commissioner per Member State
is set to continue for the near future following Irish insistence after their
lost referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon in June 2008. Iceland, with a
population of 304,000, will therefore be entitled to its Commissioner.The EU Law Blog has more on this question here.
Regardless of Iceland’s
impact (or lack thereof) on EU decision-making processes, should EU citizens welcome Iceland as a matter of principle?
A positive answer seems obvious. This is not to say, however, that more
caution is not needed. EU Institutions and Member States should make clear that that EU
membership is a reward hard to obtain and that EU enlargement is not governed
by double standards, i.e. Iceland
should not be allowed to precede Croatia for example. Icelanders,
for their part, should be ready to make sacrifices (e.g. compliance with EU
fisheries policies – themselves in dire need of reforms – should not be an
option, etc.). As for the treaty ratification aspects of Croatia’s EU membership bid (and potentially Iceland’s),
they will be dealt with in a future post.