Johanna Jonsdottir – who defended her doctoral thesis at Cambridge University on the 15th September – held a presentation on how EU policies are implemented and whether it is possible for Iceland to influence them. This was the second seminar session as part of the Europe Dialogues.
Iceland has implemented the majority of the EU directives and legislations, including those which traditionally have been difficult by Icelanders to adopt. However, as Johanna pointed out, implementations have never gone ahead without a fight, and on several occasions Iceland has managed to successfully influence policies. The ability to influence EU policies had put Iceland in a special position vis-à-vis the EU, which Johanna argued to be between a member state and a candidate. Although, Iceland is bound by the EEA Agreement and has to implement EU legislations accordingly, EEA countries can cancel or postpone implementation of certain policies through article 102. However, the dependency by EEA countries on trade with the European market is often a strong enough incentive for states to introduce though legislation.
Johanna mentioned some of the ways Iceland can and has influenced policies. This can be done either through committees, in for example the European Parliament, or by providing policy support to neighboring states. The fact that EU legislation does not automatically become a part of the EEA agreements, but has to be negotiated through so-called Joint Committees, has also proved beneficial to Iceland. Johanna used examples such as the Icelandic discontent with the commercialization of electricity and greenhouse gas legislation, including the EU food policy which Iceland decided to evade. The consequences of this are still to materialize.