Minister for Business Affairs Gylfi Magnússon deemed it likely that Icelandic authorities would launch talks with the European Central Bank next fall on support in currency issues. The talks would not have to be directly related to the EU membership application talks, but could take place alongside them, the minister said.
The European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.
The Icelandic parliament, Althingi, voted in favor of applying for membership to the European Union yesterday and the government will formally request that talks be launched at a meeting of the EU foreign ministers on July 27, Fréttabladid reports.
The EU will decide in December whether or not to launch membership talks with Iceland, and if they approve of Iceland’s application, talks will begin in February 2010 at the earliest.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Össur Skarphédinsson said the parliament’s decision had not come as a surprise. “I was fairly certain about the outcome when the vote began and it was never as uncertain as some long-standing media have stated based on wishful thinking alone.”
Skarphédinsson said the outcome in parliament will support the Icelandic negotiation committee in its talks with the EU. The vote (33 for, 28 against and two abstentions) showed that the matter is sensitive and that the EU must take the situation in Iceland into consideration.
It has not been decided yet who will be appointed to the negotiation committee but the resolution proposal, which was passed yesterday, states that there should be extensive consultation with interested parties.
Skarphédinsson said it is important that support for the negotiation committee be as broad as possible. “The more powerful the backing, the better the chances for Iceland’s comprehensive interests.”
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