Iceland-European Union Accession Talks on Hold

News

Iceland-European Union Accession Talks on Hold

The new Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, met with Stefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood policy, in Brussels yesterday. The new government has put accession talks with the European Union on hold.

RÚV reports that in a press conference held yesterday, Füle told reporters that the fact Iceland’s new foreign minister made his first official visit to Brussels showed just how strong the relationship between the EU and Iceland is.

gunnar_bragi_og_stefan_fule_2013
Photo from  Ministry for Foreign Affairs' website

Füle expressed his disappointment when the minister informed him that Iceland planned to withdraw from its negotiations with the EU. He reiterated his position that Iceland belongs in the EU and that the window of opportunity to join the EU is wide open.

The EU is willing to work wholeheartedly in its efforts to see Iceland join the union of European nations, Füle said. However, the procedures cannot be delayed interminably. Gunnar Bragi stated that in spite of halting accession talks, Iceland planned to continue its good relationship with the EU. He added that no decision had been made concerning if and when a referendum is to be held to determine whether to continue accession talks, nor the form of questions posed in such referendum.

The new Progressive Party-Independence Party coalition opposes the continuation of the accession talks. However, it is questionable whether the government is legally entitled to go against the concurrent resolution decided by the previous government when the accession process was initiated.

According to pressan.is, the concurrent resolution requires Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, to agree to the intended changes. In order to pass the new policy, a new resolution must be passed by the parliament.

JB