Wednesday

22nd Feb 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."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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.

MEPs set to approve Canada trade deal

The European Parliament is expected to give the green light to the EU-Canada free trade agreement, which would start being implemented in April.

EU leaders to discuss migration, in Trump's shadow

New US president Trump overshadows the Malta summit of EU leaders on Friday, as they discuss the bloc's future amid new geopolitical realities, and step up efforts to stop migration via Libya from North African countries.

News in Brief

  1. Romanian parliament buries controversial corruption decree
  2. Dozens drown off Libyan coast
  3. EU ministers approve anti-tax avoidance directive
  4. Poland rejects EU criticism of court changes
  5. German nationalist leader met with Putin allies in Moscow
  6. German housing market overheated, says Bundesbank
  7. France invites three EU leaders for Versailles summit in March
  8. Greece agrees on new bailout reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  2. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  3. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  4. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  7. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  8. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  9. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe
  10. Salzburg Global SeminarToward a Shared Culture of Health: Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship
  11. European Free AllianceAustria Should Preserve & Promote Bilingual and Multinational Carinthia
  12. Martens CentreShow Your Love for Democracy! Take Part in Our Contest: "If It's Broken, Let's Fix It"

Latest News

  1. Should Europeans spend more on defence?
  2. Dieselgate: EU disappointed with VW's treatment of customers
  3. French police raid Le Pen's party office
  4. The Armenia-Azerbaijan war: A refugee's story
  5. Greece and creditors break bailout deadlock
  6. Internal EU report exposes Libya turmoil
  7. EU commissioner condemns 'delay' in post-Dieselgate reform
  8. Sweden fights back as foreign leaders make up bad news