Brexit: A Hard Road Ahead For Iceland - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Brexit: A Hard Road Ahead For Iceland

Published November 29, 2017

Photos by
althingi.is

Although not an EU country, Iceland has a difficult time ahead with Brexit, as the UK prepares to leave the European Economic Area (EEA).

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has released a report on what Brexit will mean for Iceland. Even though Iceland is not in the EU, it is in the EEA, an agreement that allows Iceland to participate in the Single Market with EU countries.

As the English summary outlines, Britain’s departure from the EU also means a departure from the EEA, meaning Iceland and the UK will have to draw up new agreements on a variety of sectors. As Britain is scheduled to formally leave the EU in March 2019, time is of the essence.

These sectors include not just a variety of trade and food safety issues, but also immigration could be affected, pending new agreements. As the report details:

“The EEA Agreement’s provisions ensure the free movement of Icelandic citizens within the European Economic Area. Unless otherwise agreed, the rights of Icelandic citizens to seek employment in the UK without having to apply for work and residence permits will therefore be repealed, as will their rights to take their families with them. This also applies to the rights of students to reside in the United Kingdom for study without a permit. The comparable rights of British citizens in Iceland will likewise be abolished.”

Minister of Foreign Affairs Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson (shown above) has told reporters recently that he believes Iceland should take a neutral stance on Brexit, while expressing optimism that Britain will want to continue to have a free trade agreement with Iceland. Hammering out the details of such an agreement will be one of the most important tasks Iceland’s new government will face.

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