Friday

20th Apr 2018

Iceland halts EU talks as elections loom

Iceland's government has suspended negotiations to join the EU ahead of parliamentary elections in April that could see a eurosceptic government elected with a mandate to halt membership talks.

The government said in a statement that a deal would not be reached in time, commenting that "it is now clear that the negotiations will not lead to an Accession Treaty during the present electoral term."

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Iceland - a bumpy EU path (Photo: biologyfishman)

Elections are scheduled for April 27, with opinion polls indicating that the centre-left coalition government is lagging around 15 points behind the conservative Independence party, which opposes EU membership and is widely expected to form a coalition with the liberal Progressive party.

The governing coalition of the centre-left Social Democrats and the Left-Green party swept to power in 2009 in the aftermath of a banking crisis which saw Iceland's three main commercial banks collapse in 2008 with liabilities of over ten-times the size of the country's annual GDP.

Since the crisis, Iceland's debt to GDP ratio soared from 25 percent in 2007 to 130 percent in 2011 after needing an €8 billion euro bailout to avoid defaulting on its debts.

The country is also still facing court actions in the court of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) over the compensation of over 500,000 EU depositors who lost their savings in Icelandic banks following the crisis.

Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir submitted the country's EU membership application in July 2009, promising to hold a referendum on the completion of negotiations.

Iceland membership of EFTA already requires it to adopt large chunks of EU single market law, but it has faced difficulties in reaching an agreement with EU officials over fisheries policy - traditionally the main branch of the Icelandic economy - and the Common Agricultural Policy.

The government said that it had addressed 29 of the 33 chapters of the EU's rule-book known as the acquis communautaire in relation to the membership talks. However, it acknowledged that "there have been delays in opening negotiations on important chapters such as fisheries as the EU has postponed finalising work on its screening report on the chapter for many months."

"Regarding the 16 chapters which now stand open, Iceland‘s negotiating committee and experts will continue their cooperation with the EU," said the government statement but added that this would not require "further government or parliamentary decisions."

Peter Stano, spokesman for EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule, said that the EU executive was hopeful that talks would resume.

The commission "continues to be convinced that the EU accession of Iceland would be of mutual benefit and remains committed to accompanying Iceland on its path towards EU membership," he said.

Agenda

Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK

The European Commission will present proposals to protect whistleblowers, combat fake news and organise the digital single market. The international community will gather in Brussels to discuss how to help Syrians in the current war and after.

Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform

France and Germany have pledged to forge a joint position on euro reform by June, despite German reluctance on deeper monetary union.

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  2. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  3. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  4. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  5. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  6. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  7. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  8. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists