EU news from Iceland

  • MEPs surprised by lack of support for EU membership
    A delegation of MEPs from the European Parliament visited Iceland on September 7-9 meeting with government ministers, leading people from labour unions and employers and from organisations for and against membership of the European Union. After meeting with the MEPs the leader of the Icelandic no movement, Ásmundur Einar Daðason who also is a member of the Icelandic Parliament, wrote on his Facebook page yesterday:

    “Just came from a meeting with members of the European Parliament who are staying in the country. They wanted to meet leading people from the no and yes movements. They seemed very surprised at the great opposition to an Icelandic EU membership. This meeting confirmed what many people have argued that the leaders of the government are not giving the correct picture of the situation of this matter in Iceland.”

    Ásmundur Einar Daðason MP’s Facebook page

  • 64 percent want the EU application withdrawn
    New online poll by the radio station Bylgjan (one of the most popular in Iceland) suggests that 64 percent of those either agreeing or disagreeing want the country’s application to join the European Union withdrawn. 36 percent want to proceed with it. The results of the poll were published on August 17.

    Bylgjan online poll

  • The conservatives and liberals want to stop Iceland’s accession process
    The chairman of the conservative Independence Party (Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn), Bjarni Benediktsson, again stressed in a radio interview earlier this week his party’s policy that Iceland’s ongoing application to join the European Union should be withdrawn without delay. Asked if he would withdraw it if his party would enter govenment he replied with a firm ‘yes’.

    In an article in the Icelandic daily Morgunblaðið yesterday the chairman of the liberal Progressive Party (Framsóknarflokkurinn), Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, called for the EU application to be put aside and the accession negotiations stopped while the EU is sorting out its economic difficulties and it becomes clear what the outcome of that will be. His party’s policy, accepted earlier this year, firmly states that Iceland’s interests are best secured outside the EU.

    Next general elections will be held according to schedule in the spring of 2013 if the current fragile center-left coalition government will hold onto power until then. The next government to take power in Iceland is likely to be either a coalition between the Independence Party and the Progressive Party or to involve at least one of the two parties.

    According to the latest public opinion polls in Iceland the vast majority of Icelanders both oppose joining the EU and wants to withdraw the application. For over two years now all opinion polls have shown a majority against EU membership.

    Vill slíta aðildarviðræðum ( August 14, 2011)
    Vill leggja ESB-umsóknina til hliðar ( August 18, 2011)

  • New poll: Majority as before against EU membership
    New opinion poll was published in Iceland today produced by Capacent Gallup for Heimssýn, the Icelandic No movement. According to it 64.5 percent oppose joining the European Union while 35.5 percent favour it measuring only those who either said yes or no.

    In a similar poll produced by Capacent Gallup for Heimssýn in June 57.3 percent rejected EU membership while 42.7 percent favoured it. According to that opposition to joining the EU has increased this summer while support for membership has declined.

    For more than two years every single opinion poll in Iceland has shown vast majority of Icelanders opposed to EU membership.

    Vaxandi andstaða við aðild að ESB ( August 11, 2011)

  • Majority of Icelanders wants to withdraw the EU application
    The majority of Icelanders want to withdraw Iceland’s application to join the European Union according to a fresh opinion poll produced by Capacent Gallup for Heimssýn, the Icelandic No-movement.

    51 percent favour withdrawal of the application, 38.5 percent want to carry on with it, and 10.5 percent have not made up their minds. If only those in favour or opposed to withdrawing the application are
    counted about 57 percent want to withdraw it.

    The question asked was: “How much are you in favour of or opposed to Iceland withdrawing its application for membership of the European Union?” The poll was carried out June 16-23 and 820 people were asked.

    Meirihluti vill draga ESB-umsóknina til baka ( June 30, 2011)

  • Continued majority against EU membership in Iceland
    The vast majority of Icelanders are still opposed to joining the European Union according to a new opinion poll published today, March 17, in the business newspaper Viðskiptablaðið. 55.7 percent oppose EU membership while 30 percent favour the step. 14.2 percent are uncertain.

    A recent poll by Capacent published on March 10 put the opposition to EU membership at 50.5 percent, the support at 31.4 percent and the uncertain at 18 percent.

    The last poll before that was published by Capacent in July 2010 putting the opposition at 60 percent, the support at 26 percent and those uncertain at 14 percent.

    Every poll published in Iceland since August 2009, made by different polling companies, has shown a large majority of Icelanders against joining the EU and only about 1/3 in favour.

    Viðskiptablaðið March 17, 2011

  • Less than 18 percent want the current government
    According to a new opinion poll by the polling company MMR published November 11 less than 18 percent want the current left wing government in Iceland, which applied for membership of the European Union in 2009, to continue governing the country. The rest wants other froms of governments or is uncertain.

    The MMR poll

  • Growing EU division in the Icelandic government
    There seem to be growing divisions in the Icelandic government over the application for membership of the European Union delivered in the summer of 2009. Today the Minister of Justice, Ögmundur Jónasson, (from the Left Green Movement) says in an article in the Icelandic daily Morgunblaðið that he wants the accession negotiations to be concluded in two months time and the referendum to take place in the wake of that.

    Jónasson also says in the article that this is possible if the accession process will be stripped down to “real negotiations” as he phrased it with no alignment to EU laws and administration as the EU demands alongside the talks. Jónasson voted in favour of the EU application in 2009 despite being opposed to membership. In a media interview today he said that he did not vote in favour of an alignment of Iceland to EU demands.

    Vill ljúka aðildaviðræðum á tveimur mánuðum (Ví November 13, 2010)

  • Says the government has no intention to join the EU
    Bjarni Benediktsson, chairman of Iceland’s Independence Party (Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn), the largest opposition party and the country’s largest political part according to opinion polls, said in a radio interview on November 7 that the government should simply tell the European Union the truth, that in reality there is no meaning behind the accession process on the government’s behalf.

    “I think this is stranded at the moment. Very little is really happening. Despite the commitment by the [leadership of the] Left Green Movement to support the accession process they are stalling it every week. Then it is much cleaner simply to tell the people on the other end: We don’t mean anything with this,” Benediktsson said.

    He said to his opinion it was a wrong move for the government to apply for EU membership.

    Meinum ekkert með þessu ( November 7, 2010)

  • Only 30 percent now support Iceland’s government
    New public opinion poll in Iceland produced by Capacent shows that only 30 percent now support the country’s center-left government led by the Social Democratic Alliance (Samfylkingin), which is the only Icelandic political party that favours joining the European Union. The SDA got almost 30 percent in the general elections in April 2009 but now has only 18 percent according to the poll.

    Meanwhile the conservative Independence Party (Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn) now has 36 percent and is by far the largest political party in Iceland according to polls in recent months. Traditionally the party has been Iceland’s largest party for decades but it lost that status briefly after the 2008 financial crash in Iceland. The party has the policy thatthe country’s ongoing EU application should be withdrawn immediately.

    Fylgi ríkisstjórnarinnar hrynur ( November 1, 2010)

  • Only about 18 percent trust the European Union
    According to a new opinion poll by the polling company MMR only 17.9 percent of Icelanders trust the European Union while 53.5 percent do not trust it. If those neutral are not taken into the picture about 75 percent do not trust the EU.

    The MMR poll

  • Iceland’s government unlikely to finish EU membership negotiations says a member of the government’s negotiating team
    “The current government will very unlikely finish the membership negotiations with the European Union. That will only happen through a powerful leadership from the center and right wing of the [Icelandic] politics,” said Þorsteinn Pálsson, former Prime Minister of Iceland and former chairman of the conservative Independence Party, in a speech on last October 6. Pálsson is also a member of the current center-left government’s team with the task of negotiating EU membership which make his comment even more interesting.

    The Independence Party, which is currently leading the opposition, has the policy not only to oppose membership of the EU but that the application for membership shall be withdrawn immediately.

    Þorsteinn Pálsson’s speech (in Icelandic)

  • Only 25 percent want the euro
    New internet poll by the Icelandic radio station Bylgjan suggests that only 25 percent of Icelanders want to replace the national currency, the króna, with the euro. This is about the same percentage that wants to join the EU according to repeated opinion polls over the past twelve months. At the same time 44 percent want to keep the króna in one way or another, either pegged to the US dollar or the euro or not. Also according to the poll 26 percent want to adopt the dollar as Iceland’s currency.

    Hvað vilt þú gera í gjaldmiðilsmálum landsins? ( October 12, 2010)

  • Iceland’s Foreign Minister in an growing desperation
    Foreign Minister Össur Skarphéðinsson has an article today in the Icelandic tabloid DV where he lashes out aginst those in Iceland who are fighting against membership of the European Union, and have always fought against it, for doing that. This is seen as yet another token of the growing desperation among membership supporters that the application is heading for even more difficulties than it has already.

    Skarphéðinsson’s government has been distancing itself from the application in recent months claiming on a number of occasions it was not the government’s policy to apply but merely the decision of the Icelandic parliament. The reason probably being the growing opposition to the application both among the voters in general and within the junior coalition partner the Left Green Movement.

    As everyone else in Iceland Skarphéðinsson knows that the EU application was exceptionally poorly prepared and that it was rushed into it despite the fact that there has never been a necessary support in Iceland for taking such a step, neither political nor public. The Foreign Minister, however, chooses instead to blame those who everyone knew would continue to fight against an EU application for the mess.

    On top of this there are rumours that MPs from Skarphéðinsson’s Social Democratic Alliance, the current senior coalition parner and the only political party in Iceland that favours EU membership, are now hoping to form a new and less fragile government with the conservative Independence Party which has the policy that the EU application must be withdrawn immediately.

  • New internet poll in Iceland on the EU
    New internet poll was made public today in Iceland which shows 58% opposed to membership of the European Union and 29% in favour. The poll was made yesterday by the popular Icelandic radio station Bylgjan.

    Although this poll was not produced as scientificly as for example ones produced by Capacent (a question was simply asked at the second most popular Icelandic website where everyone could participate but each ip-number only once) the results are nevertheless surprisingly in line with such purely scientific polls.

    Reykjavík síðdegis spurði: Hver er þín afstaða til ESB aðildar Íslands í dag? ( September 9, 2010)

  • New government policy: No mention of the EU application
    Significant changes were made to the Icelandic center-left government last week with new ministers coming in and others leaving. After these changes political analysts have said there is more hostility against membership of the European Union within the government than was before they took place.

    But what has been seen as the most interesting change is that the new government policy does not mention the EU issue at all unlike the original government platform. However, this is in line with repeated statements by government ministers in recent months that the ongoing EU application is not the policy of the government but merely the decision of the Icelandic parliament.

    This has led to speculations in Iceland that the government, especially the junior partner the Left Greens, may be preparing an organised retreat on the issue. After all it has become clear that not only the government is split on the question whether to proceed with the application but also the senior government partner the social democrats.

    Þögn um Icesave og ESB aðild í 20 mála verkefnaskrá ríkis­stjórnar­innar ( September 2, 2010)

  • Majority now also against membership talks
    For years supporters of membership of the European Union told the Icelandic people it was possible to enter some kind of a scouting membership talks with the EU without any formatlity or obligations. In Icelandic it was called “könnunarviðræður”. Membership talks with the sole aim to see exactly what the EU had to offer.

    Even when the application for EU membership was delivered last year by the Icelandic government its leaders claimed the aim was not to join the EU but merely to see what it had to offer and they are still saying this. Now they are finally realising that the EU has whole other ideas about the process after the application.

    For years public opinion polls as a result showed a majority for “membership talks” while there was usually majority at the same time against in polls asking if people were in favour of “applying for EU membership”. But now people have obviously finally realised that some scouting membership talks are not on the table.

    As a result a new poll produced for the pro-EU movement in Iceland showed a majority against “membership talks”. This was in fact their final straw when it came to public opinion polls and now they don’t have that anymore.

  • Increasing support for the Independence Party
    The support for the conservative Independence Party (Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn) has increased significantly this summer after the party underlined its opposition to membership of the European Union by demanding that the application would be withdrawn without delay.

    The Independence Party continues to be by far the largest political party and now has according to Capacent poll 35 percent of the votes compared to only 24 percent in the last general elections in Iceland in the spring of 2009.

    The party which has lost most support according to the poll is the Social Democratic Alliance which is the only Icelandic political party that favours EU membership.

    Fylgi Sjálfstæðisflokksins eykst á milli mánaða ( August 12, 2010)

  • Applying for EU membership not the government’s policy
    Iceland’s Finance Minister, Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, gave a statement at a press meeting on Tuesday that it was neither his government’s policy to apply for membership of the European Union nor join up. It was merely the decision of the country’s parliament to send in an application.

    This Sigfússon said in the wake of recent comments by the Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Jón Bjarnason, to the newspaper Morgunblaðið that the whole accession process should be stopped since it was not just simple negotiations as the Icelandic people had be told.

    Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir was also answering questions at the press meeting and underlined Sigfússon’s statement by saying that the Fisheries and Agriculture Minister had an obligation to execute decisions by the parliament just like other government ministers.

    This is in line with previous comments this year by Iceland’s Foreign Minister that the EU application was not  the government’s policy but only the parliament’s decision and that the purpose of the application was primarily to see what the EU had to offer but not to join.

    „Ekki stefna ríkisstjórnarinnar að sækja um aðild að ESB“ – Hver sótti þá um aðild Steingrímur? ( August 24, 2010)

  • EU membership? No thank you!
    European politicians and journalists visiting Iceland in recent months have been quite astonished to experience first hand how little interest Icelandic MPs and Icelanders in general have in joining the European Union. So astonished in fact that Icelandic lawmakers have repeatedly been asked if the EU application delivered by the Icelandic government in 2009 is really serious. Well, quite frankly it isn’t. It is a door bell prank. No one really is there when the bell rings and the door is opened.

    There is a reason why Iceland has never before applied to join the EU. There has always been a strong opposition to membership in the country. The necessary support among the Icelandic people has in fact never been there and the present government was and is well aware of that. Still the EU was deliberately told differently. And now the EU is waking up to a bad dream and realising that Icelanders quite simply don’t want to join the EU and never have. That the EU application is in fact a lame duck.

    Read the whole article

  • Iceland’s Foreign Minister in his own world
    Foreign Minister Össur Skarphéðinsson said yesterday in an interview with, the website of the Icelandic newspaper Morgunblaðið, that he thought that support for his government’s application to join the European Union had increased among Icelandic MPs. Ask what evidence he had for his claim he said he knew the parliament. Skarphéðinsson’s Social Democratic Alliance is the senior partner in Iceland’s current coalition government and the country’s only pro-EU political party.

    Today has asked leading people from the other political parties represented in the Icelandic parliament, Althingi, if their think support for EU membership has increased among their MPs. They all agree that they haven’t sensed anything of that sort but on the contrary that there is a rising scepticism among them. This includes the chairman of the Left Greens, the junior coalition partner. It is safe to say that Skaphéðinsson’s comments have amazed people in Iceland as no one recognises them to be true. Not even MPs in his own party find them in the position of being able to back up his comments.

    Skarphéðinsson has been travelling to various EU countries this summer speaking with leading people about his government’s EU application and has probably been giving them a wrong picture of the situation in Iceland including the claim that support has been increasing for EU membership among the country’s MPs. The only plauseble reason why the Foreign Minister is putting forward this claim must be an attempt to calm Brussels over the little support joining the EU has in Iceland.

    Aukinn stuðningur við aðild ( July 23, 2010)
    Afstaða VG til ESB óbreytt ( July 24, 2010)
    Skynjar ekki aukinn stuðning ( July 24, 2010)
    Össur að tala til Brussel ( July 24, 2010)
    Ummæli Össurar koma á óvart ( July 24, 2010)

  • New poll: Continued 60 percent against EU membership
    According to a new public opinion poll in Iceland produced by Capacent 60 percent oppose joining the European Union while only 26 percent are in favour. The rest is undecided. This is in line with repeated previous polls.

    Taking only into the picture those in favour or opposed to EU membership about 70 percent of Icelanders are opposed to joining the bloc.

    Viðhorf til Evrópusambandsaðildar Íslands ( July 6, 2010)
    Aðeins fjórðungur vill í ESB ( July 1, 2010)
    Mikil andstaða við aðild að ESB (Rú July 1, 2010)

  • The Independence Party demands EU application withdrawal
    During its national congress last weekend the conservative Independence Party (Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn) stressed its previous policy that the interests of Iceland were best secured outside the European Union. Furthermore the national congress demanded that the ongoing application for EU membership would be withdrawn immediately.

    The same weekend the government’s junior coalition partner, the Left Green Movement (Vinstrihreyfingin – grænt framboð) stressed its opposition to joining the EU at its party council congress and furthermore agreed that the EU accession process would be reviewed. A decision whether the party will support a withdrawal of the EU application was postponed until next autumn.

  • Icelanders want EU application scrapped
    New public opinion poll was published yesterday showing a large majority of Icelanders in favour of scrapping the ongoing application for membership of the European Union. According to the poll 57.6 percent want the application withdrawn while only 24.3 percent want to proceed with it. If only those in favour or opposed are looked at 70 percent want the application withdrawn entirely.

    This is the same percentage that would vote no to EU membership in a referendum according to polls (Iceland will not join the EU unless first accepted in a referendum).

    A proposal to a resolution has been put forward in the Icelandic parliament to withdraw the EU application backed by MPs from all the political parties represented in the parliament except one, the social democrats.

    Iceland to Win EU Backing to Start Talks, Draft Says ( June 14, 2010)
    Meirihluti vill draga umsókn um aðild til baka ( June 14, 2010)
    Tæp 60% vilja draga aðildarumsókn að ESB til baka (Ví June 14, 2010)
    Flestir vilja afturkalla ESB umsókn ( June 14,2010)

  • MPs want EU application withdrawn
    A proposal for a resolution will be put forward on Althingi, the Icelandic parliament, this weekend that the application for membership of the European Union should be withdrawn. It is initiated by Unnur Brá Konráðsdóttir, MP for the conservative Independence Party, and supported by a large group of MPs from various political parties represented in the parliament.

    The Icelandic parliament narrowly accepted the EU application in July 2009. Some 33 MPs supported the application while 28 voted against it. Two MPs abstained. However, there is no majority for EU membership in the Icelandic parliament and has never been.

    Many of the socialist MPs that voted in favour of the application were – and still are – against membership of the EU. But they supported the application to be able to form the current government with the pro-EU social democrats, the only pro-EU party in Iceland.

    However, due to a extremely busy schedule of the parliament (dozens of large issues are on its schedule before its recession for the summer on next Tuesday and only few are bound to be addressed in time) it is not certain if the proposal will be voted on this time.

    According to the latest public opinion poll in March this year 70 percent of Icelanders would vote against EU membership. An internet poll in May by the Icelandic radio station Bylgjan resulted in 75 percent saying the EU application should be withdrawn.

    Umsókn um aðild að Evrópusambandinu verði dregin til baka ( June 12, 2010)