The European Free Trade Association’s Surveillance Authority (ESA) has launched an investigation into state financing of the Harpa Concert Hall and Convention Centre. According to an announcement on the ESA’s website the Authority began looking into the State’s funding of Harpa since 2011 after receiving a complaint from an unnamed “interested party.” The question about the suitability of the Icelandic government funding Harpa revolves around the clear financial separation at the concert hall between running cultural happenings and commercial events, like conferences. “Aid to promote culture is welcome under the EEA Agreement. Iceland must, however, make sure that such aid is not in fact subsidizing commercial activities, such as the hosting of conferences,” said Oda Helen Sletnes, president of the EFTA Surveillance Authority, in the ESA’s statement on the investigation. The initial research the ESA has conducted since the original complaint was lodged in 2011 raised enough questions about the possible funding of commercial activities at Harpa with State money to warrant launching the official investigation. Harpa is jointly owned by the Icelandic State and the City of Reykjavík.
The US Embassy in Iceland says they have received the written statement from protesters who oppose the Gaza attacks, and “have delivered this message back to appropriate colleagues in Washington”. As reported, protesters assembled in front of the US embassy yesterday, in opposition to US support for Israel while the attacks on Gaza continue. Vísir reports that some 2,000 people attended the protests, and delivered a written statement to embassy officials. The statement, addressed to US President Barack Obama, called upon US authorities to put an end to Israel’s use of force against Gaza. Today, the US embassy posted a
Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir met with the former Commissioner of the Capital Area Police four times during police investigations of her ministry, but denies she ever tried to exert influence. These acts may put her on shakey ground with members of her own party. In a statement posted on the ministry’s website, Hanna Birna has responded to a formal request from Parliamentary Ombudsman Tryggvi Gunnarsson regarding news that Hanna Birna had allegedly told then Commissioner of the Capital Area Police Stefán Eiríksson, both in person and over the phone, that she was unhappy with how investigations of
Minister of Housing and Social Affairs Eygló Harðardóttir said she is worried about second- and third-generation children of immigrants, saying that they are in danger of becoming isolated. RÚV reports that her ministry is also concerned about immigrants on the rental market. “We are very worried about the status of immigrants on the real estate market, as it relates to overall integration into Icelandic society,” she told reporters. “Language comprehension is also important, in order to ensure that the children of immigrants can finish primary school, continue to secondary school, and then decide to learn a trade or go to
Welfare Minister Eygló Harðardóttir has announced that, come next fall, the Ministry intends to propose legislation against racial discrimination. This was reported by RÚV. According to RÚV, ‘the notion of equal rights’ will thereby be ‘extended, making it also apply to race and people’s place of origin’. The Minister is quoted as saying that ‘what we have in mind, first and foremost, is for people to have a way through the state apparatus, to verify whether they have been discriminated against or not.’ The legislation will apply, it is reported, ‘both within and outside the job market’. ‘Of course discrimination
Disappointed with the delay of his flight from Spain, Icelander Davíð Aron Guðnason decided to take matters into his own hands by fixing the plane’s engine, reports Vísir. There were no flight mechanics available when the delay of Davíð’s plane from Spain to Iceland was announced. It was likely that all 180 passengers would have to spend the night at a hotel while the issue was dealt with. Incidentally, Davíð is a flight mechanic by trade and offered to help fix the plane so that it could leave. “I spoke to the pilot, who put me in touch their flight mechanic
A comprehensive round of testing of beef products across Europe has revealed almost no traces of horse meat in Europe beef and none in Iceland, reports Vísir. The European Commission described the results of the testing as encouraging following last year’s horse-meat scandal, in which millions of ready-made beef meals were pulled from supermarket freezers across Europe. European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, Tonio Borg, has said the results prove that there has been progress following the events of last year. According to the report, 10 tests were conducted in Iceland but none showed traces of horse DNA.