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Thumbs up for Iceland - 24/02/2010

Icelandic flag © EU

Iceland deemed ready for EU membership talks

The EU should start formal talks with Iceland on its application to join the bloc, says a commission report on the country's suitability for membership.

But the report also says the North Atlantic island nation of 320 000 will need to make ‘serious efforts' to bring its laws in line with EU legislation in areas including fishing, agriculture and financial services.

The recommendation wraps up the commission's study of Iceland's membership credentials, the first step in the entry process. Such studies can take more than a year to complete, but today's recommendation comes just over seven months after Iceland turned in its application.

The report recognises that Iceland shares many EU values, including a well-established democracy and respect for human rights. As part of the European Economic Area trade bloc, the nation is also already integrated into the EU market and adheres to most EU laws.

If EU countries decide to accept Iceland as an official candidate, negotiations will likely last at least a year. Assuming they lead to an invitation, Iceland plans to hold a referendum on the question.

Iceland turned to the EU at a time of economic crisis in the country. Its application highlights the EU's role in promoting economic and political stability.

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