Work to continue on Iceland's EU accession despite talks suspension
Ireland says it will continue to work with Iceland on its EU accession plans during Ireland’s presidency of the European Council, despite yesterday’s decision by the Icelandic government to suspend parts of the negotiations ahead of a general election in April.
The Icelandic government yesterday announced that it would cease work on four of the “chapters”, or policy areas, that form part of its negotiations on EU membership but that have yet to be completed – fisheries, agriculture, rights of establishment and services, and free movement of capital.
In addition, while discussions will continue on the various negotiations already under way, no decisions on these issues will be made, the prime minister’s office said.
“It is in Iceland’s best interests that the issue be managed prudently in the period up to the elections,” a statement from his office said, noting “it should be the nation itself” which took the decision.
Iceland first sought EU membership in 2009, following a devastating banking and economic crash.
Official talks began the following year; so far Iceland has submitted official negotiating positions on 29 policy areas. However, opinion polls over the last year have shown that public support for EU membership has waned.
Ireland had hoped to advance talks on Iceland’s accession during its presidency.
Yesterday, a spokeswoman said the presidency was “aware of the Icelandic government’s intention not to adopt any further negotiating positions in advance of their upcoming elections. We stand ready to continue co-operation on the chapters that are open, with a view to advancing these towards closure”.
Iceland is due to hold a general election on April 27th.