Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation, today signed the EEA EFTA Separation Agreement on behalf of Iceland, alongside the Foreign Ministers of Liechtenstein and Norway and the UK Brexit Secretary.
The agreement protects the rights of EEA EFTA nationals living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EEA EFTA States, ensuring that at the end of the Transition Period they will be able to enjoy broadly the same rights as they do now. It also resolves a number of other issues arising from the UK’s exit from the EEA.
The EEA Agreement will continue to apply until the end of 2020, during the transitional period agreed upon by the EU and the UK. Hence, there will be no significant change in Iceland-UK relations this year.
Thórdarson says the agreement is an important milestone for both the UK and the three EEA EFTA States as it puts them on an equal footing with the EU when it comes to solving issues related to Brexit. He further notes that the agreement is the beginning of a new phase, as preparations are now underway for negotiations on the future relationship between Iceland and the United Kingdom.
Iceland’s preparations for future negotiations
The Icelandic government has appointed Ambassador Thórir Ibsen as chief negotiator and chair of the negotiating committee of Iceland for the upcoming negotiations. The negotiation committee is appointed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation. The coordination of the negotiations is overseen by the Trade Directorate of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The Embassies of Iceland in London and Brussels will continue to play an important role in the negotiations and their preparation.
"I am optimistic about the talks ahead, as both states will benefit from reaching a good deal. Iceland aims to obtain at least comparable terms of trade with the UK as other states within the EEA while also addressing issues specific to Iceland and its core interests,” says Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation.
Iceland‘s preliminary negotiating objectives have been presented to the Government. They are based on thorough preparatory work and consultation with stakeholders, other ministries and relevant institutions and agencies. In essence, Iceland’s objectives include good market access for products and services, investments, flexible arrangements on residence and employment rights as well as the right rights of residence for the purpose of study.