Today marks the conclusion of the screening process between the European Union and Iceland, which began in November last year. Experts from Iceland and the European Commission have now compared and scrutinized legislation in all 33 substantive chapters of the accession negotiations. The screening meetings have shown that Iceland already implements, in part or in whole, EU legislation (acquis communautaire) in 21 chapters through its membership of the European Economic Area (EEA). The meetings have also revealed the main legislative differences in chapters outside of the EEA, such as fisheries, agriculture, regional policy and monetary policy.
The screening process proved successful in identifying the key areas of the upcoming accession negotiations. EU member states have come away from the screening process with a deeper understanding of Iceland, including the unique characteristics of being a small nation, sparsely populated and remotely located. Commission officials have praised the Icelandic side for their professionalism and level of preparation, composed of chairpersons and administration officials, as well as relevant stakeholders. In order to ensure transparency, relevant preparatory documents and information has been published on the Foreign Ministry's website (http://europe.mfa.is) at the close of every individual screening chapter.
The end of the screening process heralds the start of the negotiations proper between the EU and Iceland. The negotiations will be organized into individual chapters, and the first four chapters will be opened by the Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) in Brussels on 27 June 2011. The first chapters are already covered by the EEA Agreement, and are: public procurement (chapter 5), information society and media (chapter 10), science and research (chapter 25) and education and culture (chapter 26). The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Össur Skarphéðinsson, will represent Iceland at the IGC. The EU will be represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary, Janos Martonyi, on behalf of the Council Presidency and Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule on behalf of the European Commission.