An Intergovernmental Conference was held in Brussels today between Iceland and the EU on two chapters in the current Accession negotiations; free movement of workers and intellectual property rights. Both of these Chapters are part of the EEA-Agreement and the two sides concluded that Icelandic legislation on these matters is equivalent to the corresponding EU legislation . Therefore it was decided to close negotiations on the two Chapters as they have already been implemented into Icelandic law.
Iceland's chief negotiator, Stefán Haukur Jóhannesson, led the Icelandic delegation and Jan Tombinski, permanent representative of Poland, the EU Presidency, chaired the meeting on behalf of the EU. Mr. Johannesson stressed that Iceland would be prepared to open up to half of the remaining chapters before the end of this year and the remainder under the Danish presidency before the mid-2012. He welcomed the recent EU progress report on Iceland and said that it was a confirmation of the good progress made in the negotiations.
Regarding the Chapters dealt with in the negotiations, Mr.Johannesson said that the European legislation ensuring Freedom of movement for workers had been in force in Iceland since 1994 when the EEA Agreement was concluded. During that time thousands of Icelanders had taken advantage of the right to work in EU Member States and to enjoy the same social benefits and health care as citizens of EU Member States. As regards Intellectual property rights Mr. Johannesson said that Icelandic legislation was now almost entirely in accordance with European legislation thus providing the same rights to Icelandic inventors and companies.
The current negotiations deal with specific Chapters of EU aquis, 35 in number. In all, 6 chapters have been opened and 4 have already been provisionally closed. Iceland's negotiating committee and teams, comprising representatives from the government, principal stakeholders and organizations will shape Iceland's negotiating positions in accordance with the goals outlined by the Icelandic Parliament. The next EU-Iceland intergovernmental conference is scheduled to take place in Brussels on the 12th of December; Foreign Minister H.E. Mr. Össur Skarphédinsson will attend the conference on behalf of Iceland.