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MEPs back Iceland’s EU bid

The prospect of Iceland becoming the 28th EU member state is welcomed by Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs, who underline the country’s ‘strong democratic culture’, in a resolution approved on 23 June.

The controversial issue of Icesave repayments should be solved bilaterally with the UK and Dutch governments, it adds.

MEPs recall that Iceland is obliged to ensure payment of the minimum compensation to Icesave depositors in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, as the EFTA Surveillance Authority said in its letter of formal notice of 26 May. In a referendum on 6 March, Iceland’s voters vetoed a repayment plan following the collapse of the Icesave bank.

As a member of the European Economic Area, Iceland is at an advanced stage of compliance with EU laws, notably in the single market field, but the country needs to substantially reform the organisation and functioning of its financial supervisory system and its deposit guarantee system.

The Icelandic Parliament‘s Special Investigation Commission’s report may contribute to ‘rebuilding national confidence’, says the resolution, which encourages follow-up measures to the work of this Commission. Reykjavik is asked to ensure full compliance with EU laws in the fields of conformity assessment, accreditation and market surveillance.

Reykjavik is also asked to reform its judiciary system and to ensure the independence of the judiciary. MEPs are concerned about the predominance given to the Minister of Justice and Human Rights in the appointment of judges, prosecutors and supreme judicial authorities.

In order to meet EU accession criteria, the policy areas – known as chapters – that will have to be fully negotiated with Iceland are agriculture, fisheries, taxation, economic and monetary policy and the external relations.

Public support towards EU membership has, in the light of the political and economic crisis, shifted in a negative direction since summer 2009, says the resolution. MEPs encourage the Icelandic authorities to initiate a public debate to address the concerns of Icelandic citizens regarding EU membership.

Iceland also part of the Schengen treaty, a NATO member and has had a free-trade agreement with the EU since 1973. Iceland’s accession would allow the EU to play a more active role in the Arctic Region, note MEPs.

EU leaders have agreed to open membership talks with Iceland, which submitted its application in July 2009. The negotiations will be based on Iceland’s own merits and their pace will depend on the country’s progress in meeting the requirements set out in the negotiating framework.






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