Country Report Iceland July 1998 Main report

Political scene: Negotiations with EU continue on Schengen agreement

Negotiations with the European Union about Iceland's associate membership of the Schengen agreement, which commits signatory states to abolish border checks on people travelling between their territories, have become more protracted than the government had initially hoped. The need to renegotiate Iceland's membership arose as a result of the decision by EU member states in 1997 to incorporate the Schengen agreement into the EU's treaties. As Iceland is not a member of the European Union, a new legal basis for its continued membership has had to be negotiated. The government's demand that an Icelandic representative should have full rights to sit at all meetings of the EU Council of Ministers which deal with Schengen issues, and the right to submit proposals to these meetings, has been especially difficult to resolve. The French government in particular is concerned about setting a precedent allowing a non-member state to influence EU decisions at ministerial level. Iceland's membership of the Schengen area is of particular importance to its tourism industry, which would be adversely affected if visa controls were in place between Iceland and the EU.

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