Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Iceland definitely not coming in

Earlier this month EUObserver reported a speech by the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, in which he cast yet more doubt on the idea that Iceland will join the European Union in the foreseeable (or, indeed, less foreseeable) future.
The European Union is not "greatly interested" in concluding negotiations with Iceland in the next few years, president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson told parliament Thursday. Brussels doesn't want to risk a rejection in a referendum and is unlikely to develop a permanent fisheries policy that Iceland could accept, he said.
Here is the speech delivered to the Icelandic Parliament, the Althingi, on June 6, in full (and in English). Among other things to do with the Constitution of Iceland, its history and continuing importance, the President said:
After the turmoil of the past few years, the Constitution of our Republic is once again firmly in place; the will of the people as the driving force for action and determining the preservation of elements of supreme importance.

The general election delivered important messages regarding the Constitution and also on the future of our sovereignty. A strong majority of the newly-elected parliament is bound by the promise that Iceland will stand outside the European Union and the issue will be placed in the hands of the people.

In a way it was natural, four years ago when ominous uncertainty loomed over our economy and that of the Western world, that the Althingi should see the attractions of opening membership negotiations with the European Union, particularly with regard to the euro, which then seemed to rest on strong foundations; but now we face a different reality. No one knows along what lines the European Union may develop, and the euro zone is mired in a deeper recession than the economies of Northern Europe, America and Asia.

Moreover, the European Union’s negotiations with Iceland have gone very slowly. Already they have lasted longer than when other Nordic EFTA states – Sweden and Finland – made their approaches on membership. The last 3 parliamentary term came to an end before the negotiators had started to examine those aspects of the application that are of central importance for Iceland.

The way events have unfolded, and also my discussions with many influential people in Europe, have convinced me that notwithstanding its friendly declarations, the European Union is not in fact greatly interested in concluding negotiations with us in the next few years.
Although I have been told by representatives of Open Europe that Iceland is clearly looking for a better deal just as Britain is in her "renegotiations", it seems to me that the President was clear in his statement as the people of Iceland had been in the way they had cast their votes. (Yes, I did try to explain yet again to Open Europe that the position of a country that is outside the EU is different from the one inside but I am not sure whether they bothered to listen.)

Yesterday's news is even less equivocal.
Iceland has decided to end its bid to join the European Union (EU). The news was announced by the country's foreign minister, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, to the European Commission.

"This is how democracy works," said the minister three weeks after being appointed to the recently elected Icelandic government.

He stated that both parties in the new Icelandic government had fought the idea of EU accession.
In fact, the European Commission was told this on June 13  and took it badly. Well, one member of it took it badly.
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."
That would be the process Iceland has just aborted. What exactly is the EU going to continue and complete?

For those who want to read the words of freedom, here is the speech given by Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, the Prime Minister of Iceland on June 17, the country's National Day.

1 comment:

  1. Did you know you can shorten your links with AdFly and get $$$$$$ for every click on your short urls.