Opinion on Iceland’s accession bid delivered by the EC

The European Commission issued today its opinion recommending the opening of accession negotiations with Iceland following the country’s application for membership of the European Union. In the opinion, the Commission acknowledges Iceland’s adherence to the common values of the Union, such as democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights. It identifies challenges ahead on the road to accession. Following today’s recommendation by the Commission, it is now for the Council of the European Union to decide on the opening of accession negotiations with Iceland.

Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner Stefan Füle said that the given opinion is an important step in the accession process tha twould be as a guidance for Iceland to be a Member State of the EU.

To become a member of the EU, an applicant country must meet the political and economic criteria laid down by the European Council in Copenhagen in 1993 and adopt the entire body of EU law, the ” acquis”. Through its participation in the European Economic Area (EEA), Iceland has already taken on a considerable part of the acquis. As an EEA member Iceland has participated in the single market for more than 15 years. The Commission’s report identifies areas where the Icelandic authorities need to make serious efforts to achieve full alignment with EU law, in particular fisheries, agriculture and rural development, environment, free movement of capital and financial services.

Iceland submitted its application for EU membership on 17 July 2009 to the Council, which, on 27 July, asked the Commission to provide an opinion on the application. As the basis of its opinion, the Commission sent a 350 page questionnaire on all EU-relevant policy areas to the Icelandic authorities. Based on full and detailed answers from Iceland and additional information from EU Member States, international organisations and local and international non-governmental organisations, the Commission has drawn up a thorough analysis of Iceland’s current situation and medium-term prospects.

Iceland’s bid for accession comes at a time of economic crisis. Experience with former accession candidates shows that the prospect of EU membership and ensuing reforms have a stabilising effect on financial markets. Iceland’s application highlights the Union’s role in promoting economic and political stability.

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