Screening meeting with the European Union on Chapter 31 – Foreign, Security and Defence Policy – was concluded in Brussels 20 May. At the meeting, which was the latter one of two, experts from Iceland and the EU compared the legislation falling under the chapter, which is not part of the EEA-Agreement. The Icelandic team was headed by Ms. María Erla Marelsdóttir chairperson of the negotiation team on External Trade, Foreign and Security Affairs.
The main objective of the common foreign and security policy (CFSP) is to safeguard common values and interests in accordance with the main principles of the United Nations Charter and also to ensure the security of the Member States by preserving peace, preventing conflicts and strengthening international security.
EU missions under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CDSP) include crisis management, humanitarian relief and rescue operations, conflict prevention, stability and rule of law missions. Generally, EU assignments correlate well with the policy of the Iceland as regards participation in international operations in the field of crisis management and humanitarian relief and missions undertaken by the Icelandic Crisis Response Unit. Iceland's contribution to missions and operations under CSDP is limited to civilian participation and no changes are foreseen in this regard if Iceland becomes a Member State.
The European Union conducts, defines and implements its common foreign and security policy based on the development of mutual political solidarity among its Member States. The policy of the EU, as is stated in the Lisbon Treaty, shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States and respect their international obligations such as membership to NATO. The European security and defence policy correlates well with the security policy of the Icelandic government as described in the Government Coalition Platform of the Social Democratic Alliance and Left-Green Movement since May 2009.
At the screening meeting, Iceland emphasized the points put forward in the Opinion of the majority of the Foreign Affairs Committee on a Proposal for a Parliamentary Resolution on Application for Membership of the European Union, e.g. Iceland will remain without a military and military conscription will not be established. As can be derived from the available information and the explanatory notes that accompany the Lisbon Treaty, Iceland maintains it unconditional autonomy in its security and defence affairs and it is left to its discretion, within its own framework, whether and to what extent the country chooses to take part in common foreign and security co-operation. Also it is reiterated that Iceland will choose not to participate in the European Defence Agency and further discussion is needed regarding engagement in ATHENA, the mechanism which administers the financing of common costs of EU operations having military or defence implications, taking into account Iceland's status as a country without a military.