Iceland moving steady towards EU
The next steps in Iceland´s accession process were the main topic on the agenda of the two days visit of Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle in Iceland. His visit coincided with the vote in the Icelandic Parliament on holding a referendum about the continuation of accession negotiations: "Iceland's fate is in its own hands and Iceland decided to maintain its move towards the EU," Commissioner Füle said following the decision of the Parliament not to hold a referendum at this point in time. He pointed out that he was generally in favour of a referendum but the work of those ones involved in negotiating Iceland's accession should also be respected and a referendum should be held once there is an offer of the accession on the table. He stressed that such an offer would take into account Iceland's specificities and would respect its identity and heritage while fully respecting the principles of the EU aquis.
Commissioner Füle expressed his overall satisfaction with the steady pace of the accession negotiations so far with 15 chapters opened and 10 already closed. " I hope that 3 more chapters will be opened in the near future," he added.In his talks with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries he discussed the preparations of the next chapters to be tackled including the most challenging ones such as fisheries, agriculture, free capital movements and food safety.
Commissioner Füle also met with the Consultative Committee on Iceland´s Accession to the EU, he visited the Hellisheidi geothermal power plant and met with the Mayors of the country's major municipalities. He also discussed the EU-related topics with the members of the parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs and amongst others addressed the issue of capital controls: "We have agreed, together with the Icelandic authorities, to establish an ad-hoc working group to assess the state of play and prospects for lifting of the controls and assist in forming a common understanding of the challenges in the process that should facilitate the Icelandic government's work in this respect. This is a positive example how we can tackle together the most challenging issues."