Icelanders could be using the euro as their currency within three years of joining the European Union, the foreign minister says. He also believes the decision of whether or not to join should ultimately be put up for referendum.
Vísir reports that Foreign Minister Össur Skarphéðinsson, speaking in parliament yesterday, dismissed the findings of one financial analyst, who claimed that it could take Iceland up to 35 years to switch to the euro after joining the EU, due to the Maastricht Treaty as it pertains to foreign debt. Össur, on the contrary, told parliament that the government’s own experts have come to the conclusion that the euro could be taken up by Iceland within three years of officially joining the EU.
Össur hails from the Social Democrats, a party that has long advocated that Iceland needs to join the EU. However, he emphasised in parliament that the Icelandic people should have the final say on the matter, in the form of a public referendum.
On the point of joining the EU being a surrender of sovereignty, he rhetorically asked where Iceland’s sovereignty was “when with each week we need to adapt ourselves more to EU regulations due to the EEA agreement with new regulations, new orders, new proposals and new laws, which Icelandic MPs, ministers or the general public cannot change one iota? Is that the sovereignty we want?” He believes rather that Iceland’s interests are better protected within the EU than outside it.
The general public is still fairly divided on the EU, with most Icelanders leaning towards the No column, but the country is currently in accession talks. Should those prove fruitful, the matter will be put for referendum and parliamentary vote.