Iceland and European integration. On the edge

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Publication Date 2004
ISBN 0-415-28252-7
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This work explores the complex nature of relations between small states and the EU arising from European integration issues. Iceland is the only Nordic state never to have applied for EU membership and as a small country offers a unique opportunity for the case study in this area.

The book is organised over eleven chapters divided into two sections. Following an introductory chapter the first section presents an analysis of responses of successive Icelandic governments to European integration. Chapter two gives a historical overview of the cautious approach of Icelandic governments towards European co-operation, from the late 1940s up to Iceland's membership of EFTA and the signing of a free trade agreement with the EC in 1972. The focus of chapter three is the membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) and the factors which encouraged the Icelandic government to join in the negotiations. Chapter four explores Iceland's membership of Schengen and the consequent closeness of Iceland to European integration.

Chapter five, which opens the second section, focuses on how governments have responded to European and international constraints. The importance of the fisheries sector to Iceland is explored in chapter six. Iceland's relationship with the USA and its influence on relations with the EU is featured in chapter seven. The intense attitude of the Icelandic political elite to independence and sovereignty are examined in chapter eight. The background of the Icelandic political elite and the aspects which distinguish it from other political elites are explored in chapter nine. The small nature of the national administration and its characteristics are the focus of chapter ten which studies the impact of these elements on governments' approaches to European integration. Chapter eleven presents a new theoretical approach on how smaller states' reactions to European integration should be examined. It argues the need to look beyond the traditional variables and consider those such as military weakness, territorial size, administrative resources and economic characteristics.

Baldue Thorhallssom is Associate Professor of Political Science, and Chairman of the Institute of International Affairs and the Centre for Small State Studies, at the University of Iceland.

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