Thursday

15th Nov 2018

Iceland's EU bid is over, commission told

  • 'This is how democracy works,' Iceland's foreign minister (l) said (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Iceland's bid to join the EU is over, the country's foreign minister told the European Commission on Thursday (13 June).

"This is how democracy works," said Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, on his first overseas trip, three weeks after being appointed to the recently elected Icelandic government.

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

He pointed out that both parties in the new government had campaigned against EU accession.

He commented that the main purpose of the trip had been "to tell the commission that the new government has made the decision to put negotiations on hold.

"We are part of Europe and want to strengthen our relationship in other ways," he added.

Speaking during a frosty press conference with reporters on Thursday (13 June), Stefan Fule, the Czech commissioner responsible for EU membership bids, admitted that Iceland's decision was a personal blow.

"It was not easy for me as a person (to take the decision)," said Fule. But he added: "I am also a professional and I respect without any questions and any doubt, the will of elected representative and citizens".

He also maintained that talks on Iceland's accession to the EU should still be completed. "We remain fully committed to continuing and completing the process."

The commissioner called on the Icelandic government to make a quick decision on whether it had any intentions to re-open negotiations.

“It is in the interest of us all that the decision is not taken in an unlimited period of time,” he said.

The outgoing social democratic government began EU accession talks in 2010, arguing that joining the bloc would offer economic security to the country, which was devastated by an economic crisis that wiped out its banking sector in 2008.

However, the April election, which was won decisively by the centre-right Independence party and the Progressive party, was viewed as a vote against EU membership. Opinion polls indicate that only 25 percent of Icelanders support EU membership.

Iceland has closed about a third of the 33 negotiation chapters in the EU's body of legislation, known as the acquis communautaire. It also applies most EU single market legislation as part of its membership of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA).

"The level of alignment with EU decisions by Iceland is actually better than a number of member states,' said Fule.

Iceland leader snubs EU membership

Iceland’s bid to join the EU has come to an end, Iceland’s independence party leader Bjarni Benediktsson has said.

'EU clock is ticking,' Iceland told

The EU Tuesday said a recalcitrant Iceland could still join the bloc if it wanted but at the same time noted it is likely to sanction it for its "unilateral" fishing policy.

Iceland says final EU goodbye

Iceland has definitively dropped its EU membership bid, nearly six years after having made the demand.

Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM put Orban on spot

Authorities in Budapest confirmed the former prime minister of Macedonia, fleeing a jail sentence in his own country, has filed for asylum. Despite Hungary's strict asylum laws, the pro-Kremlin politician was not turned away.

Opinion

On Armistice Day, EU is still best gift we can give our children

While young people fought each other in 1918, young people in 2018 travel to study together under the Erasmus programme. But there is a risk of limiting our commemoration to representing the past through just speeches, museum exhibits and visits.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  2. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  3. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  4. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM put Orban on spot
  5. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  6. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal
  7. Romania data chief defends forcing press to reveal sources
  8. EU to review animal welfare strategy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us