The European Commission issued today its Progress Report on Iceland. The report assesses economic and political development in Iceland from February to October 2010, and recapulates the issues that need to be addressed in the upcoming accession talks.
The Progress Report´s key findings are that Iceland meets all political and economic criteria for EU membership. Iceland is a stable democray with strong institutions. The report welcomes amendments to the Judiciary Act which strengthen the independence of the Icelandic judiciary as regards the appointment of judges. Furthermore, the reports acknowledges the important work done by the Special Investigation Committee of the Parliament of Iceland, and the Office of the Special Prosecutor, in the aftermath of the financial crisis. The report recognizes that while there are diverging views in Iceland on the prospect of EU accession, public support for the accession has indeed increased.
The Progress Report extensively describes the economic development and prospects in Iceland. It points out substantial progress already achieved, such as in lowering inflation and interest rates, ensuring monetary stability and trade surplus, and reducing public debt. However, the report also illustrates that vulnerabilities still remain in the financial sector and unemployment continues to be a key concern.
The report covers the 33 chapters of EU law that are the subject of the accession talks. It is acknowledged that Iceland already has adopted a large part of EU legislation into Icelandic law through the Agreement on the European Economic Area.
On 15 November the screening process will officially start in Brussels. There, experts from Iceland and the European Commission will meet in order to discuss, chapter by chapter, legislation in Iceland and in the EU with the aim of defining outstanding issues. Subsequently, Iceland and the EU will formulate their negotiating positions and actual negotiations on individual chapters will commence.