In a letter the Dutch minister of finance wrote to parliament, the official position of the government is now to pursue court action against Iceland, saying “the time of negotiations is now over.”
Last Saturday’s referendum on Icesave saw about 60% of the country voting No to the agreement, sparking strong reactions from the British and the Dutch. This has prompted both Icelandic minister of finance Steingrímur J. Sigfússon and president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson to go on the defensive, both of them pointing out to international media that Landsbanki will be making payments to both Britain and Holland on Icesave.
However, a UK Nordic financial analyst has pointed out that this is not a solution.
“Grimsson appears to be repeating this line in the interview,” the analyst says. “In effect he is saying that the British and Dutch governments can take the money from the Landsbanki estate – but he forgets that that money is actually owned by other people. In the interview he is giving away something which is not his to give away. He is conflating the Icelandic state with the Landsbanki Resolution Committee and as we keep being told: Iceland did NOT nationalise its banks, so the government can have no say in how the Landsbanki assets are assigned to the claimants. Thus the President sounds generous but actually he has nothing to give away.”
Holland appears to see it this way as well, as Dutch finance minister Jan Kees de Jager writes: “The lack of a solution forces us and Iceland to let the law take its course. Now that it is clear that the parties involved will not be able to come to a solution, the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) will probably resume its infraction procedure against Iceland. … When the Iceland government decides not to adhere to the ruling of the ESA, we will go to the EFTA Court. The Netherlands and the United Kingdom will support the ESA in this case, if so desired.”
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