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19th Aug 2022

Most Icelanders opposed to EU membership

Less than two weeks after Iceland formally applied to join the European Union, a Capacent Gallup poll published in the country's largest daily, Morgunbladid, has shown that most Icelanders are cold on membership.

A majority of 48.5 percent is now opposed to entering the EU, 34.7 percent of people are in favor and 16.9 percent are undecided, the survey shows. The study was conducted between 16 and 27 July 2009 among 1,273 people.

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The new poll suggests a swing to the No camp of almost 10 per cent since the last survey, conducted by the same company in spring.

In May, 38.6 percent was opposed to EU membership, 39 percent of people were in favor and 22.4 percent were undecided.

A slim majority in the newly elected Icelandic parliament, the Althing, decided last month (16 July) to back a bid for EU membership.

Iceland's minister of foreign affairs, Ossur Skarphedinsson, submitted the request to his Swedish counterpart, Carl Bildt, representing the Swedish EU presidency, a few days later.

If the EU negotiations go smoothly, Icelanders will eventually be asked to approve accession in a referendum, according to a deal between the political parties in Iceland.

The new opinion poll was published on the same day as news emerged about the reasons behind the financial collapse last year of the country's biggest bank, Kaupthing Bank.

An internal risk analysis report from the bank has been leaked via the WikiLeaks whistleblower website. The text shows how the bank's loan committee lent huge sums to a handful of named companies just two weeks before the system broke down last October.

The biggest loans, which total more than €6 billion, were given to companies who were at the same time major shareholders in the bank.

"The only securities for the loans were the shares themselves. So there was nothing behind this capital," said Vilhjalmur Bjarnason, director of the Iceland Shareholders Association and a lecturer in business at the University of Iceland, according to AP.

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