Iceland 'could join EU by 2011'

A top European Commission official says the country could be allowed early membership.

    The government collapsed following protests over its handling of the economic crisis [EPA]

    Krisztina Nagy, a spokeswoman for Rehn, said negotiations "would go relatively fast" if it applied, because the country is a member of the European Economic Area, a zone which includes the EU's member states and Liechenstein, Norway and Iceland.

    "It already has in place a lot of legislation that is harmonised with European Union legislation," she said.

    A spokesman for the EU presidency, currently held by the Czech Republic, also said: "Iceland is a country with which we share values."

    New government

    Talks to form a new ruling coalition in Iceland are nearing to a close, a leading politician has said.

    Johanna Sigurdardottir, who is tipped to become the country's next prime minister, said negotiations between the Social Democrat Alliance and Left-Greens were set to conclude on Friday, and that the new administration would take power on the weekend.

    "We fully expect that a new government can take office on Saturday," she said.

    Ingibjorg Gisladottir, leader of the Social Democrats, has proposed 66-year-old Sigurdardottir become prime minister.

    The new coalition will lead the country until national elections, expected to be held between in May.

    Iceland's government collapsed following protests over its handling of the economic situation, which saw its financial system crash and its currency plummet.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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