Foreign Minister Össur Skarphéðinsson last night met with European Commissioner for Enlargement Štefan Füle who is on a visit to Iceland. During their meeting, Minister Skarphéðinsson and Commissioner Füle discussed the status and progress of the accession negotiations between Iceland and the EU. Two additional negotiations chapters were provisionally closed during an Intergovernmental Conference in Brussels yesterday. Thus, six negotiations chapters have been opened since the end of June and four chapters are already provisionally closed. Negotiations are held on 35 chapters during the accession process.
Mr Füle met with Iceland's negotiating committee at the Foreign Ministry, where the status of the accession negotiations and the process in the months ahead were discussed.
During the meeting with Mr Füle, the foreign minister stressed that Iceland was prepared to open up to a half of the negotiations chapters before the end of the year, and that time consuming chapters such as fisheries and agriculture should be opened as early as possible in the negotiations process as Iceland's fundamental interests are to be found in those chapters, as well as the chapter on economic and monetary policy. Foreign Minister Skarphéðinsson stressed the importance of working closely with Denmark and opening the remaining chapters in the first half of next year, as Denmark takes over the EU presidency at year-end.
Commissioner Füle said that the 2011 Progress Report on Iceland confirmed that Iceland's level of preparedness to meet EU requirements is good due to the country's participation in the European Economic Area and the Schengen agreement. Mr Füle also praised the excellent level of cooperation between officials in Iceland and Brussels.