The Icelandic government will have to change regulations governing the import of raw and processed meats, eggs, and milk in accordance with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) court’s ruling that the regulations do not comply with the EEA Agreement, RÚV reports.
The Icelandic Ministry of Industries and Innovation released a statement this morning which reads in part: “It is clear that until now Icelandic authorities have violated EEA agreements and now need to do their utmost in this area to fulfil the commitments that Iceland has made.”
The debate over import licenses began in 2011, when the Federation of Trade and Services (SVÞ) sent a complaint to the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) regarding import restrictions on raw meat, whether processed, unprocessed, fresh or frozen. The organization considered it a violation of the provisions of the EEA Agreement to oblige importers to apply for a license and submit a variety of data to the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST). Such border controls, they claimed, were not in line with the EEA Agreement. The ESA seconded the Federation of Trade and Services, and when the Icelandic government failed to respond, the organization referred the case to the EFTA court, which made its ruling on the case this morning.
SVÞ Lawyer Lárus M. K. Ólafsson, however, believes the EFTA court’s ruling could have little to no effect, as the EEA Agreement and the Icelandic legislative system are independent bodies. He states that it now lies in the hands of Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, to adapt the national legal system to European standards.