Iceland fast tracked for EU membership
Iceland’s bid to join the European Union received a boost on Monday when the 27-nation bloc’s foreign ministers agreed without delay to ask the European Commission for its opinion.
The swift decision means that Iceland, which only submitted its membership application on July 17, has already moved ahead of Balkan countries such as Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia in the queue at the EU’s entry door.
The speed at which the EU is likely to process the application reflects the fact that Iceland, as a member of the European Economic Area trading system, already participates in the European single market and applies about two-thirds of all EU laws.
Moreover, Iceland belongs to the EU’s Schengen agreement, which permits passport-free travel across the borders of 25 European countries.
At present there are only three official candidates for EU membership – Croatia, the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia and Turkey – and each faces formidable obstacles on the road to entry.
Iceland is the kind of member the EU wants. No wonder they are on the fast track. But, this is sure to annoy the Baltics, the Turks, and the Balkan countries waiting on the outside. The FT sees 2011 or 2012 as the earliest Iceland can join.