Talks will formally begin on Tuesday. The small north Atlantic island, with a population of just 320,000, has aligned itself with many EU laws and is seen as fitting snugly with the slightly more ineffable European 'norms', but negotiations on a few key issues - such as fishing rights and its traditional whale hunting - are expected to be difficult.
This despite that support for EU membership among Icelanders, and indeed their MPs, is rather low.
The EU News From Iceland blog notes this:
In addition to potential controversial policy issues, there is also the increasingly negative opinion of Icelanders towards EU membership.
"I don't have the impression from the opinion polls that the Icelanders themselves are very favourable: that's the problem," said France's EU Minister Pierre Lellouche.A June poll showed that public opposition to joining the EU has risen to 60 percent. In November last year, it was 54 percent.
Skarphéðinsson has been travelling to various EU countries this summer speaking with leading people about his government's EU application and has probably been giving them a wrong picture of the situation in Iceland including the claim that support has been increasing for EU membership among the country's MPs. The only plauseble [sic] reason why the Foreign Minister is putting forward this claim must be an attempt to calm Brussels over the little support joining the EU has in Iceland.MPs ignoring the will of the people? Now where have we heard that before?