The Icelandic government decided this morning to slow down the European Union accession negotiations. No new chapters will be opened and work on Iceland’s position in chapters that have yet to be opened, including agriculture and fisheries, will not continue before the general election in April.
The European Central Bank. Photo copyright Icelandic Photo Agency.
However, talks will continue on the 16 chapters where negotiations are in progress, ruv.is reports.
The decision to slow down talks was made unanimously at a cabinet meeting held specifically to deal with the topic this morning.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Össur Skarphéðinsson stated it had always been clear after negotiations began on six chapters in December that the process would slow down, reasoning that politicians must be given flexibility to work on their campaigns without disturbances because of the EU talks.
Now, the parliament will not be obligated to participate in negotiations on difficult topics at the same time as the campaign is at its height, he said.
Also, it is natural that the government that takes over after the election in April will be given the opportunity to put its mark on the negotiations on extensive topics such as fisheries and agriculture, the minister added.
In the past weeks and months there has been increased pressure within the Left-Green Movement, one of the two coalition parties, on reevaluating the position of Iceland’s accession process to the EU.
This view was last expressed by the party’s chair, Minister of Industries and Innovation Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, in his New Year’s address to the party.
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