From Iceland — Government Split Over EU Issue

Government Split Over EU Issue

Published August 18, 2013

The two parties of the ruling coalition seem to disagree over whether or not to hold a public referendum on continuing accession talks with the European Union.
The talks were put on hold last spring by the previous government, in anticipation of last April’s elections. Those elections unseated the previous government, and put the Progressives and the Independence Party in power.
During campaign season, one of the promises made by the Independence Party was to hold a public referendum on whether or not to continue talks with the EU. However, Progressive MP and Foreign Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson told radio station Bylgjan this morning that he does not believe there is any need to hold such a referendum. Gunnar also emphasised that he is against Iceland joining the EU in the first place.
Attention then turned to Independence Party chairman Bjarni Benediktsson on the matter. Bjarni told RÚV that the referendum issue “has not been discussed” between the two parties, and that it would be untimely to comment on Gunnar’s remarks at this time.
When asked if the Independence Party has gone back on its campaign promise to push for an EU accession talks referendum, he confirmed that their platform had not changed, adding that it was “possible to say” that the two parties disagree on the issue.
He said in closing, though, that one thing the two parties do agree on is that neither have “joining the EU” in their platforms.

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