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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

26.05.09: Iceland asks parliament to start EU talks - 0 views

  • Iceland's government submitted a proposal to parliament on 25 May to authorise the start of negotiations for membership of the European Union. Analysts say the country's accession talks could be finished in 12 months.
  • Background: Iceland was hit severely by the economic downturn. Prior to its meltdown, Iceland's banking-sector assets had grown from about 96% of GDP in 2000 to about 800% by the end of 2006, and were worth around 10 times its GDP on the eve of the crisis.  But late last year the country received a $10 billion financial rescue package led by the International Monetary Fund.  Iceland's centre-right government collapsed in January following the country's bankruptcy as a result of the global financial turmoil. Since then, the country has been governed by a centre-left coalition under interim Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir.  As Croatia's EU accession bid continues to stall, Brussels has indicated that Iceland is welcome to apply for membership, providing a piggy-back for amendments to the Lisbon Treaty promised to Ireland in the hope of obtaining a positive result in the second referendum on the text, planned for October (EurActiv 30/01/09). 
  • Support for negotiations on EU membership, and ultimately adopting the euro currency, has risen following the economic meltdown that ensued after Iceland's banks all collapsed under the weight of massive debts.  Finance Minister and Left-Green leader Steingrimur Sigfusson has said he would not oppose the proposal, and Icelandic media have speculated about half of the party could vote in favour. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

26.07.10: Iceland membership talks formally begin Tuesday - 0 views

  • At their last meeting before the summer break, EU foreign ministers on Monday (26 July) gave the greenlight for the start of negotiations on Iceland's membership bid. Talks will formally begin on Tuesday. The small north Atlantic island, with a population of just 320,000, has aligned itself with many EU laws and is seen as fitting snugly with the slightly more ineffable European 'norms', but negotiations on a few key issues - such as fishing rights and its traditional whale hunting - are expected to be difficult.
  • In addition, the UK and the Netherlands have linked actual membership with resolution of a dispute over the €3.8 billion in British and Dutch savings, lost in the banking crisis that consumed the nation in 2008. After the Icelandic Icesave internet bank collapsed two years ago, depositers in the UK and the Netherlands were compensated by their governments. The Hague and London now are demanding Reykjavik pay them back.
  • Icelanders themselves in a recent referendum rejected a payout plan that would have cost each household tens of thousands of euros. The disagreement has soured the population's sentiment towards the EU. Immediately after the crisis, a majority of Icelanders looked to the EU as a solution to their problems, but the bitter fight with London and the Hague has slashed support for EU membership on the island. In addition to potential controversial policy issues, there is also the increasingly negative opinion of Icelanders towards EU membership.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

27.07.09: EU kick-starts Iceland's accession - 0 views

  • Just days after Iceland filed its application to join the European Union, EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels today (27 July) are expected to accept it and ask the European Commission to draft an opinion.
  • Diplomats told EurActiv they were confident that the EU foreign ministers would forward Iceland's application to the Commission for an opinion - a thorough screening of the candidate's credentials based on answers to a questionnaire.  The procedure, which follows Iceland's formal application on 16 July, is progressing much more quickly than with other candidates, diplomats pointed out. 
  • But the negotiations will not all be plain-sailing for Iceland.  Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen recently said his country would block Iceland's EU accession if the country did not reimburse Dutch victims of a bankrupt Icelandic bank, Icesave, a web-based subsidiary of the Landsbanki bank from which many savers from Britain and the Netherlands are awaiting reimbursement.  But the issue will be part of the Commission's opinion, other diplomats explained, saying that no objections are expected to be raised either by Britain or the Netherlands at this stage.  Also, a diplomat from a country with a long coast warned that fisheries could mean Iceland's accession process takes longer than expected. He referred to positions expressed by the island's foreign minister, Össur Skarphéðinsson, that Reykjavik would not accept a rotten deal with the EU for its powerful fishing industry.  Seafood accounts for almost half of Iceland's exports and 10% of its gross domestic product. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

17.06.10: Iceland gets EU green light, but Dutch PM warns of 'hard demands' ahead - 0 views

  • European leaders have finally given the green light for Iceland to begin EU accession negotiations, but the Dutch Prime Minister has indicated it will be hard for the country to join if it does not pay for losses incurred in the Icelandic banking collapse. Mid-afternoon on Thursday (17 June), the summer European Council in Brussels signed off on language approving the start of official talks. The British and the Dutch insisted however on wording that made implicit mention of the ongoing banking dispute.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

09.03.10: Commission: Icesave doesn't prevent Iceland from starting accession talks - 0 views

  • The issue of whether Iceland should reimburse the UK and the Netherlands €3.9bn lost by British and Dutch savers in the Icesave crash is a bilateral one and should not affect the country's EU accession prospects, Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle told the European Parliament yesterday (8 March).
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

06.11.09: Concern over Iceland EU bid as public support tanks - 0 views

  • Iceland this week appointed its chief EU accession negotiator, but the country's application is already hitting the buffers domestically and Brussels fears that the Arctic nation may "pull a Norway", meaning an application that the government is sincere about, but which the people strongly reject.
  • The country's finance minister, Steingrimur Sigfusson and leader of the government's junior coalition partner, the Left Green Movement, said last Tuesday at a meeting of the Nordic Council in Stockholm that while Iceland had applied to join, the people did not want to become members of the EU, a statement that has not been met with great enthusiasm in Brussels.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

23.06.10: Belgium to move quietly on EU enlargement policy - 0 views

  • The upcoming Belgian EU Presidency has not specifically cited enlargement among its top priorities but is widely expected to help Croatia and Iceland reach important milestones in their accession bids over the next six months.
  • Croatia is expected to conclude its EU accession negotiations during the Belgian EU Presidency, while Iceland will formally start membership talks, political analysts told EurActiv. Although officially Belgium is being "discrete" as to its intentions (see 'Background'), Croatia can expect to finalise membership talks during Belgian Presidency, which starts on 1 July, according to Piotr Maciej Kaczyński of the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

02.04.10: Germany Hijacks Iceland's EU Bid - 0 views

  • Less than one year after the watershed ruling from Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court that empowered Germany’s parliament to trump EU law, Germany is using the ruling to force the EU to conform to its will. The issue Germany has chosen to test this extraordinary power not given to any other EU member nation is Iceland’s bid to join the EU. The EU’s decision to consider Iceland as an official candidate was expected to be made in a late March summit, following a favorable recommendation from the EU commission. It was delayed, however, to give the German parliament time to examine the commission’s opinion. For Iceland to be considered as an official candidate for EU membership, several German parliamentary committees must consent to the move.
  • It is interesting that the first time Germany has forced the EU to consult the Bundestag in an expansion of EU power is in the matter of enlargement—not even if a nation will become an actual member, but in such a trivial matter as whether it will be considered an official candidate. Just look at Turkey’s bid for membership to see how meaningful being an official candidate is. This area of EU power typically doesn’t have a direct impact on any of the current EU members, and so Germany chose to try out its new power in an uncontroversial way. This is apparent by the lack of headlines devoted to Germany’s first use of its national “supremacy clause.” The other heavyweights of the EU, France and Britain, are not calling foul, and none of the other member nations seem concerned that the EU’s enlargement policy was just hijacked by Germany.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

European Values Study - 0 views

    The European Values Study is a large-scale, cross-national, and longitudinal survey research program on basic human values. It provides insights into the ideas, beliefs, preferences, attitudes, values and opinions of citizens all over Europe. It is a unique research project on how Europeans think about life, family, work, religion, politics and society.The European Values Study started in 1981, when a thousand citizens in the European Member States of that time were interviewed using standardized questionnaires. Every nine years, the survey is repeated in an increasing number of countries. The fourth wave in 2008 will cover no less than 45 European countries, from Iceland to Azerbaijan and from Portugal to Norway. In total, about 70,000 people in Europe will be interviewed.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

27.08.10: Europeans losing faith in EU - 0 views

  • Just 42% of Europeans say they trust the European Union, according to a new opinion poll, down six percentage points in just six months.
  • The survey also found that fewer than half of Europe's citizens see their country's membership of the EU as a positive thing, but the European Commission is clinging to the positive elements of the report, particularly on economic governance. Officials are presenting the new Eurobarometer as an endorsement of greater budget oversight from Brussels, pointing to the 75% of Europeans who said stronger coordination between member states will help weather the economic storm.
  • Notwithstanding the positive spin from Brussels, a deeper analysis of the report shows a crisis of faith in the Union. Just 49% of citizens view membership of the European Union as a good thing, while 47% said they do not trust the EU. Even prospective members have gone cold on the European project, with just 27% of Turks saying they trust Brussels. For the first time, the Eurobarometer included Iceland, which is currently in talks to join the EU. A startling 35% said they trusted the Union, while only 29% thought that Iceland would benefit from becoming a member.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

09.09.09: The European Perspective of Iceland - Remarks by Ollie Rehn - 0 views

  • While we Nordics are eternal functionalists who tend to look at the pragmatic side of things, let me raise an issue which is in the minds of many Europeans as regards Iceland’s will to join the EU family. That is the question of European vocation. In other words, the European Union is not only a marriage of convenience. It is also a marriage of shared spirit and commitment to our common political endeavours, which aim at achieving peace through integration, and pooling our sovereignty for freedom and liberty, prosperity and solidarity, inside and outside Europe.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

13.11.09: The pace picks up on EU enlargement into the Balkans - 0 views

  • EmailSharePrint Back to Brussels Blog homepage The pace picks up on EU enlargement into the Balkans November 13, 2009 3:59pm Enlargement of the European Union is, almost imperceptibly, moving forward once more.  EU foreign ministers are expected next week to forward Albania’s membership application to the European Commission for an opinion.  This is a necessary technical step on the path to entry - small, but important. The Commission is already preparing opinions on the applications of Iceland and Montenegro.  The opinions will take quite some time to deliver - longer for Albania and Montenegro than for Iceland - but the machinery is now in motion. There are signs of progress elsewhere, too.  For a long time Serbia’s efforts to draw closer to the EU have been held back by the refusal of the Netherlands to permit implementation of Serbia’s EU stabilisation and association agreement.  The Dutch insist that Serge Brammertz, the chief United Nations war crimes prosecutor, must first of all declare that Serbia is fully complying with its efforts to capture war crimes suspects - principally, Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb military commander. Brammertz is due to hand his latest report to the UN Security Council in early December, and the Serbian government appears confident that it will be positive.  That would remove the Dutch veto and allow Serbia to make a formal application for EU membership.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

04.11.10: A first look at the European Commission progress reports on enlargement due t... - 0 views

  • "The EU's enlargement process has gained new momentum since the [European] Commission adopted its last progress reports, notwithstanding the many other challenges the Union faces." These are the opening words of the European Commission's Enlargement Strategy, which will be officially presented next Wednesday (10 November) together with the progress reports for the Western Balkan counties, Turkey and Iceland. WAZ.EUobserver has seen the report in advance.
  • "All need to focus on good governance, improving the rule of law, speeding up economic reform and improving their capacity to adopt and implement the acquis. Several complex problems remain, including the governance of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the name question concerning the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Open bilateral issues remain and differences over Kosovo's status have held up regional co-operation," the strategy underlines.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

23.06.09: Priorities for Sweden's upcoming Presidency - 0 views

  • With just over a week to go before Sweden takes over the helm of the EU's six-month rotating presidency, the country's foreign minister, Carl Bildt, has made it clear he does not intend to waste time attempting to unblock the many bilateral disputes that currently pepper the EU's diplomatic landscape.
  • One area where he appears to be more optimistic for a quick solution is the future status of Iceland which – depending on an upcoming parliamentary debate – may submit an application in the coming months to join the EU.
  • Sweden's European affairs minister and former MEP, Cecilia Malmstrom, speaking alongside her colleague, said she is under no illusion the next six months are going to be easy and that the presidency's main priorities will be to deal with negotiations in the lead up to the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen in December and the economic crisis.
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  • Not likely to help the Swedes however, is the significant institutional change that is expected under their watch, with a new European Parliament due to sit for the first time next month and the current commission scheduled to end this October. Adding to this confusion is the current drawn-out changeover between the Nice and Lisbon Treaties, with four countries – Ireland, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic - yet to ratify the EU's new set of rules.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

2,280 questions asked about Albania's EU readiness - 0 views

  • Albania on Wednesday (16 December) took another step towards EU membership when the European Commission sent Tirana a voluminous questionnaire about its readiness to join the bloc.
  • Helmuth Lohan, head of the EU mission in Tirana, handed the questionnaire – a 384-page document with 2,280 questions – to Prime Minister Sali Berisha, the EU Delegation in Albania announced on its website. 
  • "The questionnaire attaches particular importance to the 'Copenhagen political criteria' for EU accession. Good governance, the rule of law, judiciary reform, the fight against corruption, media freedom – these are all key issues which will form the core of our assessment," read a statement from the EU delegation. 
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  • Although Albania has changed enormously since the Communist period, when it was a unique case of autarchy vis-à-vis not only the West, but also the rest of the Communist bloc except China, it still remains a poor country. A recently published Eurostat survey puts Albania at the very bottom in Europe in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per inhabitant, expressed in purchasing power standards.  With an EU-27 average of 100, Albania comes last with 26% of this indicator. Another candidate country, Croatia, stands much higher with 63%, a rate similar to that of EU member Hungary, at 64%. Turkey stands at 46%, which is higher that the rate of EU member Bulgaria (41%).  Iceland, the Nordic EU hopeful, stands above the EU average, at 121% - higher than Sweden, which has 120%. The highest wealth per habitant is registered in Luxembourg, with 276%, followed by Ireland, a long way behind with 135%. 
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