"This is a historic day for Iceland after years of discussions and debate. We see this as a logical next step in our approach to Europe, with which we have been cooperating for a long time," said Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Ossur Skarphedinsson on Thursday in Stockholm after submitting Iceland’s formal application for EU membership to Carl Bildt, the President of the EU Council.
Minister Skarphedinsson highlighted fisheries as a particularly important and challenging issue for Iceland in the accession negotiations that lie ahead. The negotiation process should be relatively straightforward given Iceland's already developed cooperation with the EU in many areas through the European Economic Area and the Schengen-cooperation.
Icelandic membership would bring mutual benefits to Iceland and the EU according to Skarphedinsson and Bildt. Iceland, for instance, should be able to contribute to the development of the EU in areas such as natural resources; renewable energy, environment and climate change.
Minister Bildt welcomed Iceland’s application, saying "This is the start of a journey for both the EU and Iceland."
Iceland’s application would be assessed in accordance with the EU’s established procedures. It will be formally discussed at the General Affairs and External Relations Council, and then forwarded to the EU Commission for an opinion, or avis.