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Agreement between the coalition parties on management of the EU accession negotiations in the run-up to the parliamentary elections

14.1.2013

MEMORANDUM

From: The Ministerial Committee on European Affairs
To: The Government

  • In line with Althingi's Resolution of Spring 2009, Iceland applied for membership of the EU on the basis that the nation would have the final say in a referendum.
  • The coalition parties have operated in full conformity with their coalition statement and the decision of Althingi, while the majority opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs has guided the negotiating process.
  • It is now clear that the negotiations will not lead to an Accession Treaty during the present electoral term.
  • Of the 33 Chapters subject to negotiation Iceland has handed over 29 negotiating positions, while negotiations have been opened on 27 and closed on 11.
  • There have been delays in opening negotiations on important chapters such as fisheries as the EU has postponed finalising work on its screening report on the chapter for many months. There have also been delays in completing Iceland‘s negotiating position on agriculture.
  • The coming months will be marked by preparations for parliamentary elections.
  • In this light it is in Iceland's best interests that the issue be managed prudently in the period up to the elections. Therefore the following proposal is made:
  1. There will not be further work on the establishment of Iceland's negotiating positions for the four chapters which have yet to be completed. These are fisheries (13), Chapters 3 on right of establishment and services and 4 on free movement of capital, which have links to the fisheries chapter, and for the chapter on agriculture (11).
  2. Holding an accession conference in the early spring months will not be considered a priority and the two chapters for which negotiating positions have been presented will meanwhile wait in their present positions.
  3. Regarding the 16 chapters which now stand open, Iceland‘s negotiating committee and experts will continue their cooperation with the EU, nevertheless, without requiring further government or parliamentary decisions.
  4. The Minister for Foreign Affairs will inform the Irish Presidency of the EU and the European Commission through appropriate channels on this arrangement.

The agreement between the government coalition parties at the start of the electoral term is based on the democratic principle that it should be the nation itself which takes the decision in this matter. It is for each of the parties respectively to shape its own policy and presentation on the matter, as well as on the continuation of the issue, cf. the Government Coalition Cooperation Statement which states that the parties agree to respect the differing emphasis in each party concerning EU membership and their right to express their opinions and campaign in the wider community in accordance with their positions.

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