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     Iceland takes first step to EU membership  <<back  next>>

the Icelandic parliament has voted by a narrow majority to set in motion an application to join the European Union, after a week of protracted parliamentary debate.

Prime Minister Jˇhanna Sigur­ardˇttir of the Social Democrat party has also been pushing for the adoption of the euro as the national currency.

The bid must now be approved by the EU, after which Iceland's people will be asked to vote on it in a referendum. Ms Sigur­ardˇttir said that several years of negotiations lay ahead.

Opponents of the bid fear EU quotas could hurt Iceland's fishing industry. Iceland, with a population of just 320,000, has traditionally been sceptical about joining the EU. But many people there have warmed to the idea of membership following the devastating economic meltdown which saw the major Icelandic banks collapse in a matter of days in autumn 2008.

The government will formally submit Iceland's application to join the EU in Brussels on 27 July, at a meeting of the European Council.

Arni Thor Sigurdsson, chairman of the parliamentary committee which handles EU issues, has said that Iceland would not be ready to join the EU before 2013.

17 July 2009

 Last updated: 17/07/2009 11:44:00

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