Screening meeting with the European Union on Chapter 27- Environment – was concluded in Brussels 19 January. At the meeting, which was the latter one of two, experts from Iceland and the EU compared the Icelandic legislation with the legislation of the Chapter. The Icelandic team was headed by Mr. Harald Aspelund, chairman of the EEA II negotiation team.
Chapter 27 falls under the EEA-Agreement and Iceland has already implemented large part of the environmental acquis into Icelandic law. Yet nature protection, an important part of the EU environmental policy, is not part of the EEA-Agreement. Among topics discussed at the meeting was water protection, waste management, monitoring of forests, hunting of wild birds, foxes, seals and whaling, conservation of natural habitats, the protection of wild animals and plants, and emissions trading.
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The European Union law is divided into 33 Chapters, in addition to two Chapters on Institutions and Other issues. Before formal negotiations on individual chapters begin, an analytical overview of the national legislation of the applicant state is performed to evaluate its degree of harmonization with EU law and what needs to be negotiated upon. The comparison is referred to as screening. Two screening meetings are scheduled around most chapters. At the former one, the Commission explains the acquis to Iceland and at the latter one Iceland introduces its legislation and to what extent it is compatible with the EU acquis of the particular chapter. Only one meeting is scheduled around chapters which Iceland has adopted fully into its legislation through the EEA-Agreement.
The Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs has published the timetable for the screening meetings, which are expected to be concluded in June 2011. Further information about the content of individual chapters and Iceland's negotiation committee is to be found at the Ministry's website on Iceland's accession talks, http://eu.mfa.is.