An EU official who has been working closely with Iceland’s accession talks reassures the nation that they can take their time on when to begin accession talks again – directly contradicting recent statements from both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister.
RÚV reports that Cristian Preda, who is participating in Iceland’s EU accession talks on behalf of the European Parliament, told reporters that the EU has never set forth any timeframe for when talks would need to begin again. This is contrary to what Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson and Foreign Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson have been telling the press, as they have contended they received a “clear and direct message” from EU officials that Iceland could not let a pause in talks go on indefinitely.
Preda says there is no precedent for a country ending accession talks with the EU, and that there are no formal rules regarding such cases. He says that he has no other reason than to believe that EU officials have made it clear to the Icelandic government that they would “respect the democratic process of Iceland’s application.”
By this, Preda clarifies that he does not think it would be wise to rush the discussion, as the Icelandic people are not of one mind in their position on the EU. Negotiators for the EU will wait, he said, whilst a more detailed discussion on the EU takes place, though it will take time.
Preda concludes that it is possible to pause accession talks, citing Malta as one country who did. He emphasises that the EU wants Iceland to be a part of the organisation, and the EU is willing to be flexible if Iceland is willing to do the same.