The European Union said it will take heed of Iceland’s expectations and specific needs as talks on the island potentially joining the bloc progress.
“The Commission is confident that the EU will be able to present a package for the negotiations which takes Iceland’s specificities and expectations into account, within the agreed framework for the accession negotiations, while fully safeguarding the principles and acquis of the union,” the executive body said today in its annual enlargement report in Brussels. “This will also allow, in due course, for a fully informed decision of the Icelandic people.”
Iceland, which is emerging from a 2008 economic collapse, started EU-entry talks in July 2010 and may vote on accession late next year, according to Foreign Minister Ossur Skarphedinsson. Of a total of 35 negotiating chapters for membership, Iceland has opened 18 and completed 10.
Today’s report “confirms a number of challenges” in areas such as financial services, agriculture and rural development, environment and fisheries, among others, the commission said.
Iceland will hold elections in May and skepticism over entering the bloc has grown as the economy expands and unemployment has eased to below 5 percent from a post-crisis of more than 9 percent. Of the 63 lawmakers in the Reykjavik-based Althingi, 39 were opposed continuing talks on joining the EU and may push the body to address dropping membership preparations, newspaper Morgunbladid reported in August, citing a tally.
“Iceland should be able to cope with competitive pressures and market forces within the Union over the medium term, provided that it continues to address current structural weaknesses through appropriate macroeconomic policies and structural reforms,” the commission said.
The body also said that Iceland needs to address gaps on monetary policy, including “strengthening of the independence of the central bank,” according to today’s report.
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