Wednesday

19th Jun 2019

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.

EU urges Swiss to move on talks or face sanction

The EU commission tells Switzerland that clarifications to the draft deal are possible - but not renegotiations. The message is clear to 'Brexit' Britain as well: the Swiss model is over, there are no special agreements.

News in Brief

  1. New socialist group leader to push for Timmermans
  2. Romanian ex-PM frontrunner to head new liberal group
  3. France, Germany and Spain in fighter jet deal
  4. Tusk grilled in Poland over role as PM
  5. Italy is 'most credible' US partner in EU, says Salvini
  6. EU blames Sudan junta for killings and rapes
  7. Report: EU may suspend Turkey customs union talks
  8. Swiss stock exchange could lose EU access in July

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. EU urges Swiss to move on talks or face sanction
  2. Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court
  3. Commission goes easy on scant national climate plans
  4. Macron and Mogherini decline to back US accusation on Iran
  5. EU summit must give effective answer on migration
  6. Spain's Garcia set to be next Socialist leader in parliament
  7. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  8. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us