European Parliament voices support on Iceland's EU membership bid

08:41, July 08, 2010      

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The European Parliament welcomed the prospect of Iceland becoming a new European Union (EU) member state in a resolution adopted on Wednesday, stressing that the controversy of repayments to British and Dutch governments following the collapse of Icelandic banks needs to be resolved " bilaterally."

MEPs endorsed the decision by EU leaders on June 17 to open membership talks with Iceland, which submitted its application in July 2009.

Iceland's accession would allow the EU to play a more active role in the Arctic Region, said the resolution, which underlines the country's "strong democratic culture."

Iceland is already part of the Schengen zone and a member of NATO and has had a free-trade agreement with the EU since 1973.

On the Icesave bank issue, MEPs recalled that Iceland is obliged to ensure payment of the minimum compensation to Icesave depositors in Britain and the Netherlands. In a referendum on March 6, Iceland's voters vetoed a repayment plan following the collapse of Icesave.

MEPs also pointed out that although, as a member of the European Economic Area, Iceland complies with most EU laws, notably single market legislation, it still needs to reform substantially the organization and functioning of its financial supervisory system, and the way judges, prosecutors and supreme judicial authorities are appointed.

The policy areas that will have to be fully negotiated with Iceland are agriculture, fisheries, taxation, economic and monetary policy and external relations.

Public support in Iceland for EU membership has declined since summer 2009, according to the resolution. MEPs asked the Icelandic authorities to initiate a public debate to address the concerns of Icelandic citizens regarding EU membership.

MEPs also expected that the new EP-Iceland Joint Parliamentary Committee between the EP and the Althingi, Icelandic Parliament, will enhance an existing "fruitful collaboration" between the two sides.

Source: Xinhua


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