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BREAKING NEWS: Iceland to enter into talks with the EU

The Icelandic parliament, Althingi, has just passed a resolution to enter into membership talks with the European Union, with 33 votes in favour, 28 opposed, and two abstaining.

The debate has been dragging on for days. [Or, depending on how you look at it, years.] There is massive controversy over the issue, even within the individual parties, and a part of the problem has been that the two parties in the coalition government – the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left-Green Movement – have been at odds on the matter. The SDA has always been in favour, the Left-Greens opposed.

A number of amendments were put forth about the resolution, that were debated ad nauseum before the actual voting on the main issue began. One was an amendment proposal by the IP that there should be a double referendum – i.e. that there should be a national referendum about whether or not to enter into talks at all and, if that were passed, another on whether the EU agreement should be accepted. Personally I think this was the IP’s attempt to bring down the government – had this proposal been accepted, it would have meant an effective collapse of the coalition, paving the way for the IP to return to power. [Which to many of us is an unthinkable nightmare.] So that was very tense – and the relief palpable [at least Chez YT] when the outcome was announced.

More on this later, perhaps – but the bottom line is that this is a historic day for Iceland and – we hope – an auspicious one.

The weather is gorgeous – and I have a few more things to do before I can go out an enjoy it. Currently around 16°C and sunrise/sunset – oh, about the same as yesterday.

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  • Ljósmynd DE July 16, 2009, 5:37 pm

    Congratulations for this first step. It was top news in the hourly news broadcast in the German radio. Just to let you know – we care!

  • Lee July 16, 2009, 5:43 pm

    Hello Eurokjavik!

  • Kanadier July 16, 2009, 7:17 pm

    What would have been wrong with a referendum? Chipping away at a nation’s sovereignty is a pretty big issue, and should be the decision of the people not of political parties, unless the most recent election was run entirely on this one issue. How would a referendum have made the government fall anyway? However, if the people are happy then I am happy for them, Áfram Ísland XD

  • kevin o'connor waterford Ireland July 16, 2009, 8:21 pm

    Keep your fish better still Iceland can be in charge of EU fish,The Euro goodbye perhaps to sky high mortage rates,indexed loans flats you make payments on five years later you owe more than what you started with, Olive oil that keeps going up all the time along with everything else you eat apart from Skry you know that product that is supposed to be similar to yoghurt,Interesting to see a what rate the krona would go into the euro at I think having had a look at few Icelandic prices 220 is about at purchasing price parity,plus the benefit of losing control over your interest rates those good icesave returns have done you all down and led you to this, I personally hope to have a holiday in Iceland before 2013 so I should see the krona

  • Bromley86 July 16, 2009, 8:24 pm

    You’re correct Kanadier, in that the people should and will be consulted before any transfer of sovereignty. However discussions about exactly what would happen if Iceland joined involves no transfer of sovereignty, so the double referendum was just a smokescreen put up by the people who *really* don’t want to join the EU, whatever the EU offers.

    I can’t comment on whether the government would fall or not, but the chance of Iceland submitting it’s application within the pro-Iceland Swedish presidency would have been lower.

    The interesting thing was the vote of the Citizen’s movement, which was I believe 3 against starting discussions and only 1 for. The EDA had a good article on this (written before the vote though):
    http://www.economicdisasterarea.com/index.php/features/the-logical-trap-of-a-double-election-on-the-eu/

  • Swede July 16, 2009, 9:11 pm

    Welcome home! Iceland belongs in Europe. With Denmark, Finland, and Sweden in the EU you will be among friends.

  • alda July 17, 2009, 12:07 am

    LDE, Lee – 🙂

    Kanadier – basically what Bromley said. We should definitely have a referendum, but having two – one to decide IF we should enter into talks JUST to see what kind of deal we would get, and then another to agree on the deal we get … it is just stalling. To me it makes no sense. I just want to see the deal that’s on the table, then vote on whether or not I want to accept it.

    kevin – with all due respect, sir … have you ever heard of a full stop, aka a period??

    Bromley – yep, I’ve got a few things to say about the Civic Movement’s about-face. Not cool. At all.

    Swede – why thank you, homey! 😉

  • Max July 17, 2009, 8:29 am

    I was lucky enough to be taking a tour of the parliament house about 5 minutes after the decision was made yesterday. I also had the opportunity to quiz Ólína Þorvarðardóttir of the Samfylking, who was extremely excited about the decision to join the EU. She excused herself to get back to the party. There were some very happy people in that house yesterday.

  • Rob July 17, 2009, 6:28 pm

    Welcome to the club.
    It will have it’s good points and it’s bad points, hopefully you can some special deals and opt outs like the UK has !

  • Gudmundur July 19, 2009, 10:49 pm

    I don’t know. Watching this whole process just made me pessimistic and gloomy. I do support talks with EU (and EU membership does seem like a good idea, generally speaking) but in the end it feels like we’re doing this on the terms of just one political party. We had enough of that during the glory days of Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn, and I had hoped those days were over. In the end, after watching the arrogance and stupidity going on in Alþingi, the double referendum stopped seeming such a silly idea after all, if it would just get them to shut up. And I would have wanted Össur (our foreign minister) to get nowhere near this, as he’s not trustworthy and quite dumb. I wouldn’t trust him with a bicycle. Why he got elected to Alþingi in the first place is anybody’s guess.

    Besides, applying to EU at this time just feels wrong. We are in ruins. This is a bit like when we stole us some fat Marshall aid by whining. Now we want to enter EU by whining (what on earth else can we offer? fish and energy? I somehow suspect that the importance of these two resources in the eyes of the world is an urban legend we hold on to because we don’t have anything else).