The European Council decided today that negotiations should be opened for Iceland's accession to the European Union. The decision follows a positive opinion by the European Commission in February 2010 on Iceland's application.
Icelandic Foreign Minister Össur Skarphédinsson said:
“This is a good day for Iceland and for all of us. I see the EU's unanimous support for opening negotiations as a vote of confidence in Iceland as a solid European partner. Our home is Europe and Iceland's EU membership will certainly serve our mutual interests.
We are now setting off on a course that several of our closest partners completed some years ago. As an EEA member of the internal market and participant in Schengen we have already completed a large part of that marathon. I am optimistic that with creativity and hard work on all sides we will finish the course.
Iceland would then have the opportunity to become an actor in deciding on issues which affect its future, rather than a spectator. And we would make a valuable contribution to European integration as an Arctic state with substantial expertise in sustainable fisheries and geothermal energy.”
The Council decision will move Iceland from the application phase to the negotiation phase of accession. While preparations continue on the EU side to establish its negotiating framework in anticipation of an Intergovernmental conference, Iceland's negotiating committee will continue its preparations in close consultation with Althingi (the Icelandic Parliament), stakeholders and social partners.
For further information, see our new website for Iceland's application for the EU: http://europe.mfa.is/
See also announcement by the Commission.