The Minister for Foreign Affairs has appointed Ambassador Stefan Haukur Johannesson to serve as Iceland’s Chief negotiator in the upcoming accession negotiations with the European Union. Stefan Haukur Johannesson is one of Iceland’s most experienced international negotiators. He has served as Iceland’s Ambassador to the European Union in Brussels since 2005.
From 2001 to 2005, Stefan Haukur Johannesson was Iceland’s Permanent Representative in Geneva to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the United Nations and other international organizations. He was appointed Chairman of the Working Group on Russia’s accession to the WTO in 2003, a position he still holds today. Ambassador Johannesson also served as the Chairman of the WTO Non-Agricultural Market Access negotiation group in the Doha Round from 2004 to 2006, and as the Chairman of WTO´s dispute settlement panel on the United States steel safeguards dispute between the United States on the one hand, and the EU, China and several other members of the WTO on the other, in 2002 and 2003. Stefan Haukur has led free trade negotiations on behalf of Iceland and the EFTA states with a number of third countries. He began his career with the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs in 1986 and worked on inter alia the Agreement on the European Economic Area which entered into force in 1994. He was Director of the External Trade Department of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs from 1999 to 2001. Stefan Haukur was born in the Westman Islands in Iceland and is a lawyer by training. He is married to Halldora Hermannsdottir and they have three children.
The European Commission is expected to submit its opinion on Iceland’s application for membership of the EU to the European Council in the coming weeks or months. Member States will decide on starting accession negotiations with Iceland based on the Commission’s opinion. Formal negotiations are expected to begin in the first half of 2010 and the Chief negotiator has been mandated by the Minister for Foreign Affairs to lead accession negotiations on behalf of Iceland. The appointment of the chairpersons of individual negotiation teams and other representatives in Iceland´s negotiation committee will be announced later this week.