Foreign Minister Drops Iceland EU Bid, Doesn't Run It Past Parliament First - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Foreign Minister Drops Iceland EU Bid, Doesn’t Run It Past Parliament First

Published March 13, 2015

Nanna Árnadóttir
Photos by
utanrikisraduneyti.is

Iceland’s Foreign Minister, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, has notified the EU that Iceland will no longer be pursuing EU accession talks, but did so without running it past parliament first, reports RÚV.

“The Icelandic Government wishes to clarify further its intentions. The Government of Iceland has no intentions to resume accession talks. Furthermore, any commitments made by the previous Government in the accession talks are superseded by the present policy,” reads the letter Gunnar Bragi sent current EU President, Edgars Rinkevics yesterday.

According to Ministerial Law (Lög um ráðherraábyrgð) Article 8. b. all ministers are required to run major decisions by the parliament before acting on them.

Indeed, Gunnar Bragi has attempted and failed in the past to get parliament to drop the EU bid – despite campaign promises not to – only to be met with thousands protesting the move and resistance from parliament.

Finance Minister and leader of Iceland’s conservative Independence Party, Bjarni Benediktsson, has said that there is nothing to stop the government from ending the EU talks without parliamentary approval. That the decision was made by the ruling coalition in line with its foreign policy.

The ruling coalition’s decision to end talks contradicts promises they made before elections to put the matter up for public referendum.

“In retrospect, this type of public referendum has very little merit,” said Bjarni. “This isn’t a contract. It’s a highly political issue.”

“At first glance it seem like this is breaking constitutional practices as parliament agreed to the proposal to apply for EU membership. That was at least the current government’s interpretation last year when they first submitted a proposal to end accession talks,” MP and leader of the Left Green’s, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, told RÚV yesterday. As reported, the ruling coalition’s previous attempt to drop EU accession talks did not succeed.

MP and leader of the Social Democratic Alliance, Árni Páll Árnason, has spoken out against the move saying that “it shows the ruling coalition’s fear of the nation and parliament, if it does not trust itself to play by the rules.”

Former Prime Minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, also of the Social Democratic Alliance, has said that dropping the EU bid without first notifying parliament is “a gross attack on democracy.”

Birgitta Jónsdóttir, MP and leader of the Pirate Party believes “this is the beginning of the end for this ruling coalition.”

Leader of Bright Future, Guðmundur Steingrímsson called the government’s actions “sabotage.”

Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson meanwhile, told RÚV he believes “the matter is closed.”

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