Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

European Union; Iceland: Code of Conduct for Legislators Approved

(Nov. 22, 2010) In a November 9, 2010, report on the progress made by nations applying for European Union membership, the European Commission praised Iceland's recent reforms. The report was a follow-up to the February 2010 recommendation by the Commission that the EU begin membership talks with Iceland. At that time, the Commission indicated that there were a number of issues to be resolved, including Iceland's closed fishing sector, its banking disputes with other nations, and the need for independence of the judiciary and for an end to conflicts of interest among political leaders. The Commission now states that “good progress can be reported in anti-corruption policy,” while adding that Iceland still needs “effective prevention and awareness raising activities on all forms of corruption.” (Leigh Phillips, Brussels Salutes Iceland for Its Strict New Code of Conduct for MPs, EU OBSERVER (Nov. 10, 2010),

The report pointed to the bill adopted by the Althingi, Iceland's Parliament, in June 2010, which requires government officials, including members of the Prime Minister's Cabinet, to follow a code of conduct. It established better protection for whistleblowers and set up ethics training sessions for public officers. The parliamentary ombudsman is to supervise compliance; penalties will be imposed on ministers for failure to live up to their responsibilities. In a separate legislative move, the law on transparency of political donations was also amended this year. (Id.)

The report enumerated a number of remaining issues to be resolved before Iceland can join the EU. In addition to the questions of permitting foreign investment in the fishing sector and settling banking disputes with the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, the matter of the ability of other countries to provide services in Iceland, including “postal delivery, food safety laboratory capacities, and administrative structures in the agricultural sector” still must be resolved. (Id.)