Iceland's Parliament Approves Adoption Of Third Energy Package - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland’s Parliament Approves Adoption Of Third Energy Package

Published September 2, 2019

Andie Fontaine
Main photo by
Art Bicnick

The majority of parliamentarians voted in favour of adopting the Third Energy Package (TEP), Kjarninn reports, thus ending one of the most controversial issues of the year. Harsh words were exchanged during the final discussion, but ultimately the vote fell in favour of adopting the European Union code.

At its core, the TEP is intended to open the EU’s gas and electricity markets, to prevent vertical integration (i.e. when the supply chain for a company is owned by the company itself), and prevent other monopolising behaviour. As an EEA member, Iceland is ostensibly affected but it is difficult to see what impact the TEP would have on Iceland’s energy market in practice. Iceland is famously energy self-sufficient, generating its own electricity and hot water from hydro- and geothermal power. It neither imports nor exports power, and the cost and logistics of doing so are prohibitive.

Nonetheless, the issue was a cause célèbre amongst Iceland’s populist right, culminating in a record-breaking filibuster that almost endangered the passage of other legislation.

At the count of the final vote today, 46 MPs voted in favour of adopting the TEP, with 13 opposed. Opponents of the TEP were also present in the parliamentary gallery, yelling “Treason!” amongst other things at those voting in favour of TEP.

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir directed some of her remarks at opponents of the package. As many of them have expressed concerns about Iceland’s sovereignty and its natural resources, she encouraged these same opponents to approve a new amendment to the constitution that would protect the country’s natural resources. Most populists have opposed changing the constitution, which was first approved in 2010 but has yet to be implemented.

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