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Iceland Won’t Finish EU Talks Before Next Parliament Elections

Iceland probably won’t conclude negotiations on European Union membership before the island’s next parliamentary elections scheduled to take place in April 2013, Foreign Minister Ossur Skarphedinsson said.

Iceland “is unlikely” to conclude negotiations with the bloc before elections, Skarphedinsson told the parliament’s foreign affairs committee in Reykjavik today. The chances of the country managing to finish talks in the EU’s 35 policy areas in the next 12 months are “improbable.”

Iceland started EU-entry talks in July 2010 and had aspired to vote on accession in early 2013. Of a total of 35 negotiating chapters for EU membership, Iceland has opened 11 and completed eight, the EU said last week. The north Atlantic island is expected to start and wrap up talks to adopt EU foreign and consumer-protection policies on March 30, as well as opening negotiations on competition policy and energy. The primary challenges relate to agriculture, the environment and fisheries, according to EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule.

A Capacent Gallup poll last month showed that 26.3 percent of voters support membership, while 56.2 percent are against it.

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