Stefan Hakur Johannsson said the application had been handed over to Sweden, which currently holds the EU's six-month rotating presidency, and said he expected the move to be "followed up politically".
Iceland now expects its membership bid to be discussed at a 27 July meeting of EU foreign ministers, he said.
The ambassador also confirmed the country's hope that negotiations could be completed by the end of next year.
"I believe so, yes. Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn has practically said so, and also in the light of the fact that Iceland is deeply integrated already in Europe," he told this website.
"We are a part of the so-called European Economic Area, we have taken over 75% of the EU legislation on the internal market, and we have already adopted much of the relevant acquis. We are much further advanced in the integration process than other candidate countries. We are also part of Schengen," the ambassador said.
The diplomat added that part of his country's long-term strategy was to join the euro zone.
Johannsson categorically stated that his country had the administrative capacity to deal with the EU talks. "Although we have a small administration, it is efficient," he said.
Iceland's parliament on Thursday (16 July) backed the government's plan to begin accession talks with the European Union, an all but unthinkable prospect until the global financial crisis wrecked the island's economy (EurActiv 17/07/09).
Last year, the country received a $10 billion financial rescue package led by the International Monetary Fund.
On the economic situation, the ambassador described it in the following terms:
"It is difficult. We are pursuing an economic restructuring and recovery programme. There are some positive elements: inflation has gone down, trade balances are positive, but there are difficult challenges ahead."
"But we are a tough nation, we are hard-working and we’ll work our way through this," he concluded.
EurActiv obtained Iceland's 'Motives for membership', drafted the day the country's parliament voted in favour of starting EU accession talks:
Motives for membership
Having worked side-by-side with the EU since joining EFTA in 1970, Iceland is now ready for the next step and believes membership serves mutual interests. Iceland's 15-year experience in the EU's internal market through the EEA is vital.
The global financial crisis and its impact on Iceland has indeed been a political catalyst to EU aspirations. Actually, this has precedents in other European countries that applied to join the EU in times of economic crisis. EU membership and later adoption of the euro is a part of Iceland's strategy towards long-term economic stability as reflected in the robust IMF economic programme. Globalisation requires more cooperation, not less.
As an equal partner, Iceland looks forward to making substantial contributions to positive developments in areas such as sustainable fisheries, renewable energy, Arctic policy and the environment, and to strengthening the EU's integration, competitiveness and social cohesion.
As in the case of other accession talks there will therefore be challenges to overcome. However, the Government of Iceland is confident that with good faith, determination and understanding, Iceland and the EU will find mutually acceptable solutions that at the same time respect the EU's fundamental principles and meet Iceland's vital national interests.
The broader context: Common identity and shared values
Iceland is a European country which shares common heritage and common interests with Europe. Iceland shares the EU's core values of democracy, human rights and the Rule of Law as reflected by the Copenhagen Criteria.
Iceland is a proud exponent of the European model, based on strong democratic institutions, a free market economy, environmental protection and social cohesion. Since 1994, Iceland has contributed to the EFTA/EEA Financial Mechanism aimed at strengthening EU cohesion.
As a country on Europe's north-western flank and the only country entirely within the Arctic, a region of growing interest to the EU, Iceland believes its membership would serve the EU's geographical completeness. Iceland and the EU share common interests in the High North.
Iceland looks forward to taking the next logical step towards EU membership and deepening its contribution to Europe's common goal of ensuring peace and prosperity for its citizens.