Thursday

22nd Jun 2017

Icelanders protest government decision to deny EU referendum

  • Most Icelanders want a referendum on EU membership talks (Photo: European Commission)

Plans for Iceland's parliament to start work on a bill abandoning EU membership talks were held up on Monday following public protests.

Around 3,500 people demonstrated in front of the Parliament on Monday (24 February) against the decision by the ruling Independence and Progressive parties to end the talks and cancel plans for a referendum.

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 two governing parties on Friday (21 February) agreed that the country's application to join the European Union should be formally withdrawn.

The decision has received widespread criticism with most Icelanders believing that the nation should have the chance to vote on the matter in a national referendum. The Independence party had also promised a referendum in the run-up to last year’s general election.

According to a new poll conducted by Maskína, 67.5 percent of those surveyed said they want a national referendum on whether to continue EU talks.

But an equally large majority would vote against joining the bloc, according to the most recent polls.

A parliamentary debate on the bill was postponed on Monday by Einar Gudfinsson, the speaker of parliament, following the protests. However, lawmakers will probably debate the bill on Tuesday, and are expected to finalise the bill in March.

The protest is expected to continue on Tuesday.

Iceland applied to join the EU in 2010, with the then Social Democrat-led government arguing that membership of the bloc would offer financial and economic stability as the Atlantic island recovered from a banking collapse that led it to negotiate a $5 billion (€3.6 billion) bailout from the IMF and its four Nordic neighbour countries.

By the start of 2013 it had completed negotiations on eleven of the thirty-three chapters in the EU's body of legislation, known as the acquis communautaire.

However, negotiators failed to agree on how to integrate Iceland's large fisheries sector into the EU's common fisheries policy. Last summer the European Commission threatened Iceland with sanctions after claiming that the increasingly large catches of mackerel and herring landed by its fishermen were posing a threat to the sustainability of the stock.

Iceland also applies most EU single market legislation as part of its membership of the European Economic Area (EEA).

But the decisive victory by the eurosceptic Independence and Progressive parties in last April's elections, was viewed as a vote against EU membership, and the new government formally halted the accession process with the European Commission in June.

Lack of eligible candidates dogs EU relocation scheme

Member states could fail to meet their refugee quotas even if they wanted to, as strict eligibility rules mean there are few candidates left in Greece and Italy. Sweden is already wondering if it will meet its pledge.

Border management going virtual

EU leaders at a summit in Brussels are set to endorse new border control measures, while the head of a Tallinn-based EU agency predicts a future where border management goes virtual.

Border management going virtual

EU leaders at a summit in Brussels are set to endorse new border control measures, while the head of a Tallinn-based EU agency predicts a future where border management goes virtual.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal
  2. US issues warrant for VW managers, German media say
  3. EU extends sanctions against Russia
  4. Merkel denies Franco-German deal on EU agencies
  5. Dutch PM: Turkey is upholding migration deal
  6. Britain to outline rights of UK-based EU citizens
  7. Tusk can 'imagine' the UK still remaining in EU
  8. Norway offers more blocks for Arctic oil exploration

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  2. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  3. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  4. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  5. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  6. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  7. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  8. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  10. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  11. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move
  12. European Social Services ConferenceDriving innovation in the social sector – 26-28 June

Latest News

  1. EU pressures firms to tackle online terrorism
  2. Lack of eligible candidates dogs EU relocation scheme
  3. Border management going virtual
  4. Tusk hints UK could stay in EU, if it wanted
  5. Merkel, Orban and the not quite closed Balkan route
  6. EU set to roll over Russia sanctions amid defence talks
  7. May to soothe EU leaders' post-election Brexit worries
  8. Leaders at EU summit to reinforce Libyan coast guard