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This story about Icelandic EU accession talks was published by EurActiv on 27th July 2010.

Just one year after crisis-hit Iceland submitted its application to join the European Union, the bloc’s foreign ministers yesterday decided that the Nordic country should start accession talks today (27 July).

In contrast with other EU hopefuls, some of which waited for many years on the road to accession, Iceland was fast-tracked through the procedure.

In comparison, Turkey applied for full EU membership in 1987 and symbolically opened accession talks 18 years later, in 2005. But East European countries also had to wait several years before starting EU talks – Bulgaria and Romania applied in 1995 and started accession talks in 2000.

Announcing the decision on Monday (26 July), Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, admitted that while the 27 foreign ministers had taken the decision unanimously, some had insisted “a lot” that Iceland’s accession talks must be seen as giving positive impetus to the enlargement process as a whole.

Although Iceland enjoyed a head-start thanks to its membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) and the Schengen passport-free travel zone, Vanackere said the accession talks would be as rigorous as any other candidate’s.

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