Prime Minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, has said that the letter to the EU announcing the end of Iceland’s accession talks was the simplest and clearest method for bringing to light the ruling coalition’s intentions, reports RÚV.
The Prime Minister also said that although the ruling coalition had promised a national referendum on the issue it would not be happening.
“That national referendum would have to be about whether people want to apply for membership [in the first place],” said Sigmundur. “And that’s where the last government went wrong, they went ahead with the decision to apply without asking permission from the country [through a national referendum].”
The previous government did, however, secure majority approval in parliament to apply for EU membership before moving ahead with the application. The current ruling coalition did not secure parliamentary approval before withdrawing the application.
When asked by RÚV whether the current ruling coalition should learn from the previous government’s actions by putting the decision to drop the EU bid up for national referendum, Sigmundur maintained they were simply “hitting the reset button” and taking back the original decision made by the last government.
The Prime Minister also maintains that by handing in the letter, Iceland is no longer applying for EU membership.
There is much contention on that topic however – not least from parliament itself – as politicians and EU experts counter that the application must be formally ended and that the letter in and of itself does not technically count.