EU: Foreign Minister's Letter Doesn't Count - The Reykjavik Grapevine

EU: Foreign Minister’s Letter Doesn’t Count

Published March 19, 2015

Nanna Árnadóttir
Photos by
Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson's Official Facebook Page

Spokesperson for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Maja Kocijančič, has said in no uncertain terms that while the EU has received Foreign Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson’s letter in which he announces the end of Iceland’s EU application, it is not recognised as an official withdrawal.

“We have been saying for the last two years that obviously it’s the prerogative of Iceland to decide – in a free and sovereign decision – how they want to pursue their relationship with the European Union,” Kocijančič told Vísir in an interview yesterday. “But in our view, the letter in itself does not amount to the withdrawal of the membership application.”

Gunnar Bragi responded during an episode of Kastljós last night by insisting that Iceland had definitely withdrawn their application to the EU.

“In [the ruling coalition’s] opinion we are no longer an applicant for EU membership and this process is over for Iceland,” said Gunnar Bragi. “It is possible that we might have to deliver some additional paperwork but the EU should not misinterpret this – they have always said that they will respect the Icelandic government and now is the time to do so.”

Parliamentary sessions have been running into the night as discussions regarding the ruling coalition’s move to drop the EU bid continue, reports RÚV.

Members of parliament – much like the EU – have been arguing that the letter claiming Iceland is no longer applying for membership is not valid and that the resolution agreed upon by majority parliamentary approval back in 2009 still stood.

The Foreign Minister was present for the whole parliamentary session but maintained that Iceland definitely wasn’t applying for membership anymore.

Sir. Michael Leigh, Director General for EU Enlargement when Iceland first applied for membership has said the language used in the letter was “ambiguous.”

“One gets the feeling a little bit that [Gunnar Bragi] wants to have his cake and eat it too,” said Leigh. “It seems to me that the more time that goes by, the more difficult it will be for the [application] process to resume. In any event it wouldn’t be automatic. An accession negotiation is highly political and all member states would have to be on board.”


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