Thursday

23rd Nov 2017

'EU clock is ticking,' Iceland told

  • Mackerel is a sensitive issue for Iceland (Photo: European Commission)

The EU Tuesday (16 July) told Iceland it is not going to wait around forever while the island weighs up whether it is worth joining the bloc.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that the decision to open membership negotiations with Iceland was still "valid." But he added: "The clock is ticking. It is in the interests of all that this decision is taken without further delay."

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He urged Iceland to make a decision on EU membership that "is taken on the basis of proper reflection, and in an objective, transparent, serene manner."

Barroso was standing alongside Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, who was on his first trip to Brussels since his eurosceptic Progressive Party did well in April elections.

On being chosen to be prime minister in May, Gunnlaugsson immediately called a halt to the island's accession talks, in a first-of-its-kind snub for the EU.

Responding to Barroso, the Icelandic leader said he had quizzed the commission president on the future of the EU, with the bloc still struggling to fully stabilize the euro by taking further integrative steps.

"We are not only discussing the past four or five years, but also the future and how the European Union is likely to develop in the future," said Gunnlaugsson.

Matters are set to become clearer in autumn. Iceland's parliament will at that point vote on a report on "developments so far" with the EU and on the "development of the European Union itself."

"After debate in parliament next autumn we will see how things progress," said Gunnlaugsson, whose coalition government has promised that membership talks can only be restarted if agreed by referendum.

But the visit to Brussels came as Icelanders are being reminded of EU powers in fishing policy - one of the most contentious issues for the island.

EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki Monday said the commission would decide by the end of the month on whether to sanction Reykjavik for its decision to raise the quotas for mackerel.

Barroso reiterated the point on Tuesday. "We cannot support unilateral action by our partner countries," he said.

Gunnlaugsson responded that the EU should rather look at replenishing its depleting stocks, something Iceland could "assist" it with and urged member states to base their arguments on "science."

Iceland argues it can increase its quotas as more mackerel are migrating northwards due to warmer seas.

Fishing rights were always expected to be a major issue in membership discussions between Brussels and Reykjavik but talks were suspended before the subject came to the table.

Since becoming prime minister, Gunnlaugsson has said that EU demands for a reduction in mackerel quotas underlines the importance of sovereignty.

Analysis

EU 'cannot afford' lengthy German deadlock

Angela Merkel's failure to form a coalition government has raised concerns in Europe that the EU's most powerful country will send the block into paralysis.

Analysis

EU 'cannot afford' lengthy German deadlock

Angela Merkel's failure to form a coalition government has raised concerns in Europe that the EU's most powerful country will send the block into paralysis.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Ministers Pledge to Work More Closely at Nordic and EU Level
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaLaunch of Honorary Council on the Occasion of the Eastern Partnership Summit and CEPA
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Leaders Should Press Azerbaijan President to End the Detention of Critics
  4. CECEKey Stakeholders to Jointly Tackle the Skills Issue in the Construction Sector
  5. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  6. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  7. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  8. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  10. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  11. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  12. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!

Latest News

  1. EU awaits UK proposals in final push for Brexit breakthrough
  2. Berlin risks being 'culprit' for stalling EU, warns Green MEP
  3. Eastern partners, eastern problems
  4. Germany's Schulz under pressure to enter coalition talks
  5. LuxLeaks trial re-opens debate on whistleblowers' protection
  6. Wilders says Russia is 'no enemy' ahead of Moscow visit
  7. EU must put Sudan under microscope at Africa summit
  8. Mali blames West for chaos in Libya