Two thirds of all cases referred to the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) have to do with Iceland’s breach of the EEA regulations.
The EEA regulations are to be implemented by all states of the agreement and interior laws and regulations of each state have to tie in with them.
Bjarnveig Eiríksdóttir, lawyer who worked for 7 years at ESA, told RÚV that these regulations should be seen as some sort of traffic regulations for the economic life.
She added that when countries don’t implement necessary regulations, it recoils upon businesses and the economic life.
“The European Economic Area is based on there being a uniformity, having the same rules that ensure predictability, that’s what’s important,” Bjarnveig told RÚV.
She said that if Iceland doesn’t keep up with implementing regulations it creates problems for businesses to grow. “Especially for international companies, it’s easier for them if same rules apply in different countries.”
As reported, ESA recently ruled that Iceland’s blanket ban on import of fresh meat was a violation of EEA regulations.
But that is far from the only example of Icelandic laws and regulations not in harmony with international laws.
In fact, of the 181 cases awaiting ESA’s ruling, 119 are to do with Iceland. The other cases centre on Norway and Liechtenstein.
Most of the cases are regarding regulations that haven’t been implemented within the leeway initially given. A few of the cases are regarding whether the Icelandic government have interpreted or applied regulations incorrectly.
According to ESA’s latest report, the reason for this increase in Iceland’s cases is that there’s been a delay in translating and publishing regulations in Icelandic.
However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs objects to this, saying the explanation is a change in work procedure at ESA.
“They are trying to get cases through more quickly, hurrying them up and such. I don’t think the reason is that our performance has worsened; it’s first and foremost this change in their procedures,” minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson said.
Bjarnveig however believes that translating and implementing EEA regulations doesn’t seem to be a priority in Icelandic ministries.
“There seems to be an obstacle within the administration because this work shouldn’t come as a surprise. All the member states have scrutinized the regulations before they are added to the EEA agreement so some preparation work has already been carried out.”