The Icelandic Foreign Ministry has published a draft of a proposal
calling for a parliamentary vote on applying for European Union
membership, which would then be put to a national referendum on a
possible EU agreement.
The draft, published on the Foreign Ministry’s website, comes with numerous provisos. Among them, it states that the “fundamental resources” of Iceland include the control of water, energy and fishing rights, as well as the assurance of sustainable living, protection of agriculture and the security of foodstuffs, livestock feed, the social welfare system, and labor law.
Reaction to the draft from the opposition parties has been mixed.
The conservative Independence Party contends that there is not enough agreement between the ruling coalition parties – the Social Democrats and the Leftist-Greens – on the EU question. Chairman of the Progressive Party Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson told Morgunblaðið he didn’t believe the draft as it stands provides a strong enough argument for joining the EU – despite the fact that his own party was leaning favorably towards applying for EU membership, before last April’s elections.
Þór Saari of the Citizen’s Movement, on the other hand, told reporters he disagreed with the conservatives, saying in part, “[The Conservatives] are used to a whole other work ethic. I welcome the coalition handling more matters in this way, and I don’t think the coalition is unfit just because they don’t agree on all matters.” The Social Dems strongly favor joining the EU, while the Leftist-Greens oppose it. Both parties, however, have emphasised throughout the election season that they wish to see the question put to a national referendum.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Össur Skarphéðinsson defended criticism from Independence Party chairman Bjarni Benediktson, telling reporters, “Bjarni can have all the opinions he wants. I had a positive meeting with him about this matter. On his remarks I have nothing special to say except that they’re not in harmony with the reality in which I live.”