EU rules out 'fast track' for Iceland membership
Iceland will not be fast-tracked in the EU, says Swedish EU presidency.Brussels – There will be no shortcuts for Iceland when it negotiates its way into the European Union, the Swedish EU presidency said Monday, dashing any hope of an accelerated accession process.
"There is no fast track for Iceland, but there is obviously a shorter track for Iceland because they are part of the (European) single market and the Schengen area," Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said.
"But we'll take one step at a time," added Bildt on his way into an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels.
Badly shaken by the global financial crisis, Iceland applied this month to join the 27-nation bloc – an ambition made easier by the fact that, as a member of the European Economic Area, it already conforms with most EU laws.
EU foreign ministers were Monday expected to forward the application to the European Commission for its opinion – a step that could take several months before accession talks get underway.
Another candidate country, Montenegro, applied to join the European Union in December 2008, but it was not until April this year that its application was accepted, due to reticence among some EU member states such as Germany.
In the case of Albania, its application – submitted in April – has yet to be forwarded to the European Commission, which as the bloc's executive branch directly conducts accession negotiations.
The delay is officially due to uncertainty over the outcome of elections that took place in the former communist state last month.
Bildt said Iceland's EU ambitions must not overshadow those in the Balkans.
"We need to focus on the western Balkans," he said, referring to the nations of the former Yugoslavia plus Albania -- of which only one, Slovenia, now is an EU member state.
"There is a need for momentum on European integration in all the Balkans," he said. "We need to get back the momentum. I see a risk of backsliding on the Balkans even if this is not dominant today."
AFP / Expatica