Foreign Minister Fights For EU Funds He Never Wanted - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Foreign Minister Fights For EU Funds He Never Wanted

Published December 12, 2013

Icelandic Foreign Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson is asking the EU to continue Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) funding to Iceland – despite disbanding Iceland’s EU accession negotiation committee, and being on record as against IPA funding.
Vísir reports that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is less than pleased with last week’s decision from the European Union to cease IPA projects in Iceland.
Urður Gunnarsdóttir, a public affairs official for the ministry, told reporters, “From the time that this government came to power last May, the ministry and the minister have had extensive talks with European Union officials. At a meeting between the minister and the Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy last June, when the minister announced a pause in accession talks, the future of IPA payments was discussed. It was decided that our officials and the EU would team up to finish the projects that had been started. That agreement gave us no other reason than to believe that these projects would continue.”
However, the foreign minister did not “pause” talks – he dissolved Iceland’s accession negotiation committee. Secondly, the minister has been vocally against IPA funding itself.
On January 24, 2012, then a member of the opposition, Gunnar Bragi told parliament, “The [IPA] funding we’re talking about here is obviously intended to build and increase the belief that the European Union is here to stay, and here to fix everything that is possible to fix in our blessed country. This is not natural. It cannot be natural that we accept money from countries that we are negotiating with. We will soon be making deals with this national alliance or whatever we’re supposed to call it. And they come with money, to us. It is much more natural that all the changes that need to be in the deal be there first, and then the money. This is nothing more than glass beads and fire-water that is being offered,” referring to the offerings European settlers would sometimes try to give Native Americans for their land.
On June 18 of the same year, he said, “I am completely against Iceland accepting funding from the European Union. I believe that Iceland should be on a journey of its own design, not from some alms from the European Union, which runs a hard and impudent propoganda, to my mind, which is not fair and just, and has an apparatus like the EU Info Centre.”
A response from EU officials is still pending.


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