Sunday

9th Aug 2020

Iceland leader snubs EU membership

  • According to polls, 25 percent of Icelanders support EU accession. (Photo: smcgee)

Iceland’s bid to join the EU has come to an end, Iceland’s centre-right independence party leader Bjarni Benediktsson has said.

The eurosceptic politician made the statement in an interview with Icelandic news outlet mbl.is on Tuesday (21 May).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The 43-year old Benediktsson is in discussion to shape a new government with the centrist progressive party, following elections on 27 April. The progressives also oppose joining the EU.

Benediktsson’s party won 26.5 percent of the vote, giving it 19 seats in the 63-seat parliament. The progressives obtained 24.4 percent and 19 seats. The ruling social democrats won 13.5 percent of the votes and nine seats.

It is not the first time that the independence party has a role at the government helm.

The party was involved in every government between 1991 and 2009.

While in power, the centre-right party pushed to privatise the banks and liberalise the financial sector.

It was in office when Iceland’s commercial banks collapsed in 2008, leaving the country with massive debts. The bank liabilities were worth around 10 times more than its GDP.

The independence party was replaced by the social democrats who applied for EU membership in July 2009. The social democrats also asked for a $2 billion loan in 2009 from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help cover debts.

Formal EU entry negotiations started a year later.

Since then, it has closed about a third of the 33 negotiation chapters in the EU's body of legislation, known as the acquis communautaire.

The outgoing social democrats had argued that joining the EU would provide long-term security. But the April election is viewed as a vote against EU membership with only 25 percent of Icelanders supporting EU accession, according to polls.

Iceland already enjoys a high degree of integration with the EU. It participates in the single market and applies a number of EU laws.

It is a member of the border free Schengen area, the European economic area, the European free trade association, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato).

It has also been a member of the European free trade association since 1972.

Kosovo to restart EU/US-led Serbia talks

Restarting talks on Serbia relations will be the new Kosovo prime minister's top priority, he said, but will the EU or the US lead the process?

News in Brief

  1. Germany breached rights of Madeleine McCann suspect
  2. EU offers trade perks to Lebanon
  3. Germany charges ex-Audi chiefs on emissions cheating
  4. UK quarantines Belgium, as European infections climb
  5. Bulgaria's Borissov mulls resignation
  6. EU prolongs anti-dumping duties on Chinese steel
  7. Swedish economy contracted less during April to June
  8. EU offers help to Lebanon after port explosion

Opinion

Wanted: EU-US cooperation on Kosovo

International burden-sharing worked in Kosovo - until the Trump administration announced White House talks with the presidents of Kosovo and Serbia on June 27, leaving the EU special envoy for the Western Balkans in the dark.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. EU wary of violence in Belarus election
  2. Iraqis paid €2,000 each agree to leave Greece
  3. EU's most sustainable islands are Danish 'Sunshine Islands'
  4. Worrying rows over future EU chemicals policy
  5. Rainbow flag protesters charged by Polish police
  6. An open letter to the EPP on end of Hungary's press freedom
  7. Renew Europe has a plan to combat gender-violence
  8. Why EU beats US on green pandemic recovery

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us