Negotiations on three chapters were launched this morning in Iceland's accession talks with the European Union in an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) in Brussels. The chapters opened are on Transport Policy, Social Policy and Employment and Financial Control. Further talks will now commence. A total of 18 chapters have now been opened out of 33 and so it can be said that the second half of the negotiations has started.
In his address in the IGC the Foreign Minister emphasized that Iceland´s accession talks remain firmly on track. He praised the Danish presidency for efficient work and solid effort in the accession talks. A total of 7 negotiation chapters were opened in the last 6 months, and important groundwork was laid for the further opening of crucial chapters such as fisheries, agriculture, monetary cooperation and regional affairs.
Amongst the issues raised in the negotiations for chapter 14 on Transport Policy, which is already a part of the EEA Agreement, were i.e. the particular challenges posed in the transport sector by Iceland's northerly and isolated geographical location and its sparse population. Should Iceland become a member Iceland would join the EU's Air Service Agreements that will for example bring a greater access to the Canadian market. It was mentioned that due to specific circumstances Iceland will request unique solutions regarding air traffic control, domestic flights and the rest period of drivers.
On chapter 19 on Social Policy and Employment the EU side observed that Iceland has already implemented more or less all EU legislation in this field through the EEA Agreement. Iceland is currently working on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment of individuals without consideration to race or nationality, through new anti-discrimination legislation. Iceland's negotiation position underlined the importance of the Nordic welfare model, its highly developed system of industrial relations and its already close alignment with the acquis in the field of social policy.
At the start of negotiations on chapter 32 on Financial Control the EU side identified a number of issues which Iceland will address in order to ensure financial controls systems are in line with EU best practices upon accession.
The accession negotiations revolve around 33 chapters of the EU legislation in different policy areas. A total of 18 chapters have now been opened and out of those 10 have been provisionally closed. The next IGCs are presumed to be held in October and December during the Cyprus presidency.