26th May 2019

Iceland drafts plan for 2011 EU entry

  • Some 2% of the population protested the government's handling of the crisis on the weekend (Photo: Johannes Jansson /

Iceland's prime minister has announced the set-up of a commission to investigate joining the European Union.

An initial plan has already been drafted by the country's foreign ministry that would see a membership application made in early 2009, aiming for entry some time in 2011, according to a report in the Financial Times which appeared at the weekend.

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

The prime minister, Geir Haarde, also said that his centre-right Independence Party would hold its 2009 conference in January instead of October as scheduled, to consider EU membership.

In announcing the move on Friday (14 November), Mr Haarde said "We have always said that we will assess at any given time how we co-operate with Europe."

"This process will help us make our future decisions."

Until now, Iceland has never applied for EU membership, and the population has historically been strongly opposed to the idea.

After the bottom falling out of the Icelandic banking sector and a run on the currency in recent weeks, many are now convinced of the need to adopt the euro, but EU officials have repeatedly told the north Atlantic nation that the euro cannot be adopted without joining the union first.

The crisis has sharply boosted support for EU membership in Iceland, climbing to a current 70 percent up from around 50 percent ahead of the crisis.

On Saturday, some 6,000 people - two percent of the population - protested outside the Icelandic parliament, attacking the government for its handling of the crisis. According to local reports, several people carried EU flags.

Icesave deposits guaranteed

In separate news, a bitter row between Iceland and EU member states the UK and the Netherlands over savers' deposits in local subsidiaries of Icelandic banks appears to have been resolved.

On Sunday, the Icelandic government announced it is to refund the deposits of those banking with Icesave, the collapsed internet bank owned by the now nationalised Landsbanki.

Iceland's attempts to access IMF funding were threatened in recent weeks as London and the Hague - as well as Berlin - insisted that Reykjavik guarantee foreign deposits before the taps were opened.

According to a statement from the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs: "Talks between Iceland and several EU member states, initiated by the French EU Presidency, led to a common understanding that will form the basis for further negotiations."

The EU-chaperoned deal will see the government covering the "deposits of insured depositors in the Icesave accounts in accordance with EEA law."

In return, "the EU, under the French Presidency, will continue to participate in finding arrangements that will allow Iceland to restore its financial system and economy."

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso had said on Wednesday that aid could only be delivered "after Iceland and some EU member states reach an agreement on ...issues related to deposit guarantee schemes and protection of foreign depositors."

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.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May announces June 7 resignation date
  2. Ireland votes for EU election and divorce referendum
  3. Report: May to announce resignation plan on Friday
  4. Leading politicians: time for EU to have female leaders
  5. Poll: Finland's Green party to surge in EU elections
  6. High demand for postal voting in Denmark
  7. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  8. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal


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. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Belgium votes in hybrid EU-national election
  2. Irish greens take Dublin in second EU exit poll
  3. EU election results to trigger top jobs scramble This WEEK
  4. Don't tell the Dutch - but Timmermans 'won'
  5. EU says goodbye to May with 'respect'
  6. Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?
  7. Italy train row exposes competing views of EU
  8. Dutch socialists on top in first EP election exit poll

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us