Saturday

20th Apr 2019

Iceland unions push government to join EU

  • Iceland's government needs trade union pension cash to put the economy back on track (Photo: Johannes Jansson/norden.org)

Iceland's trade unions want the country to join the European Union in return for help in an economic rescue plan, as the island state's government holds emergency talks to shore up its teetering economy.

The trade unions' Pension Fund Association (PFA) has told the government it is ready to repatriate some 200 billion krona (€13 billion) from overseas funds back into Icelandic banks, according to Icelandic public radio.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

But the quid pro quo demanded by the unions is that the government apply to join the European Union and adopt the euro, according to reports in the Morgunbladid newspaper.

A PFA memorandum argues the country's deepening financial crisis cannot be solved so long as Iceland holds on to the volatile krona, which has fallen 20 percent against the euro in the last month.

"Therefore we should aim for EU membership and the adoption of the euro as soon as possible," the Times of London quotes the document as saying.

Membership in the bloc has long been opposed on the small North Atlantic island - whose population numbers only 320,000 - largely due to concerns over loss of control over fishing grounds under the EU's Common Fisheries Policy.

In 1994 Iceland signed the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement with the European Union, allowing it to participate in the European Single Market without having to join the EU.

On 23 September, Iceland's European Committee, a body of government, trade union and industry representatives, met with EU officials to find out whether there were any legal blocks to Iceland adopting the euro unilaterally without joining the bloc.

But enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn said "the euro can only be adopted through European Union membership" after he met with the delegation, the Frettabladid newspaper reported.

Mr Rehn added that if Iceland were to apply for membership, negotiations would take less than a year to be completed.

In a separate move, the Icelandic government is expected on Monday (6 October) to announce an injection worth several billion euros into the country's central bank.

Tensions mount over Kosovo-Serbia deal

Serbia will never recognise Kosovo, Serbia's foreign minister has said, as the Western Balkans heads into a new period of turbulence.

Opinion

EU should brace for a more authoritarian Erdogan

The new blend of religious nationalism will be more anti-West and anti-EU, as Brussels has anything but leverage on Turkey. The first signs of this strong rhetoric are already visible.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us