Sunday, February 28, 2010

Iceland moves a step closer to joining EU

Iceland EU Flag The European Commission recommended that the European Union (EU) move forward with accession talks with Iceland.  If the EU Member States agree, EU Enlargement Commissioner, Stefan Fuele estimated that the process would take around 14 months based on past experience with Finland and Austria.  Iceland is already a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), which gives it preferential trading rights with the EU and requires it to adopt many EU laws.

The European Commission expressed some concerns over the independence of the judiciary in Iceland and conflicts of interest for some in public service due to close links between the political class and business interests.  The size of Iceland's debt also raised some concerns.  Some Member States are involved in bilateral disputes with Iceland, which may hold up the process.  For example, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands believe they are owed money to repay a loan to British and Dutch investors who lost money when the online bank Icesave went under in 2008.  On the other hand, Icelandic fishermen are concerned that joining the EU could force them to share their fishing rights with other Europeans, which could lead to overfishing.  In light of these concerns and others, a 14-month timetable may be ambitious.


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