Thursday

19th Jan 2017

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).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Interview

'Don't push Turkey away', says writer Elif Shafak

Novelist and essayist Elif Shafak said that isolating Turkey would "play into the hands of populism" and that liberals everywhere should defend their values with "emotional intelligence".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  2. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  4. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  5. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  6. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  7. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  8. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  9. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  10. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhDs Across Europe on the Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU - Apply Now!
  12. Dialogue PlatformInterview: Fethullah Gulen Condemns Assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey

Latest News

  1. 'Be patient,' ECB chief tells Germany
  2. EU cannot copy Australia's offshore asylum model
  3. Brexit men launch anti-EU website
  4. Germany details its 'Marshall Plan' for Africa
  5. IMF predicts 'pain' for UK, as banks prepare London exit
  6. EP deal could help Tusk keep Council job
  7. UN struggles to monitor fate of readmitted Syrians in Turkey
  8. European space chief: Moon village is 'more or less a fact'