Screening meeting with the European Union on Chapter 23 – Judiciary and fundamental rights – was concluded in Brussels last Friday. At the meeting, which was the latter one of two, experts from Iceland and the EU compared the Icelandic legislation with the EU legislation falling under the Chapter. The Icelandic team was headed by Ms. Ragnhildur Helgadottir, chairperson of the Justice and Home Affairs negotiation team.
The EEA-Agreement does not cover the Chapter on Judiciary and fundamental rights. The Chapter includes the establishment of an independent and efficient judiciary, sufficient protection of human rights, fundamental rights and EU citizens' rights, and a coherent policy of prevention and deterrence of corruption. No talks about exemptions or special solutions took place, as the acquis under this chapter in general does not pose any problems/complications for Iceland. Iceland proposed the continuation of the present arrangement of Labor Court, in line with the arrangement some EU member states have today. The experts discussed the adoption of directive No. 2006/24/EC about data retention.
* * *
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 athe Ministry's website on Iceland's accession talks, eu.mfa.is.