From Iceland — Question Of Iceland Joining The EU Hangs In The Balance In Parliament

Question Of Iceland Joining The EU Hangs In The Balance In Parliament

Published March 22, 2022

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On the heels of a poll conducted earlier this month showing that public support for Iceland joining the European Union has been growing, with the largest portion of Icelanders now in favour of the move, the matter is receiving somewhat contentious treatment in Parliament.

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RÚV reports that leadership for the Social Democrats, the Pirate Party and the Reform Party, are calling for a national referendum on the subject of Iceland joining the EU.

Iceland, while not a part of the EU, is part of the EEA and EFTA, but has had a rocky relationship with the European Union. Iceland first began accession talks in 2011, having applied in 2009, during a time when Iceland was led by a very pro-EU government.

The beginning of the end was in 2015, when under a new government, then Foreign Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson unilaterally decided to send a letter to EU authorities announcing that Iceland no longer wished to join the EU.

As RÚV points out, however, the application to join the EU was never formally withdrawn, which has made the matter an open question ever since.

For her part, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir told reporters that she is personally against Iceland joining the EU, saying that there are more advantages to being in the EEA and EFTA than would be afforded by formally joining the European Union. She added that it would require a parliamentary majority to re-activate the application to join the EU.

Given her position, as well as the decidedly anti-EU stance of the other parties in the government–the Independence Party and the Progressive Party–such a majority is highly unlikely, at least during this parliamentary term.

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