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EU formally approves accession negotiations with Iceland

So, as had been expected, the European Council voted yesterday to open negotiations with Iceland for accession to the European Union.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs sent out a press release in which it points out the obvious: that Iceland is already a member of the internal market of the EEA and a participant in Schengen, so most of the directives etc. have already been implemented. With full accession, however, “Iceland would … have the opportunity to become an actor in deciding on issues which affect its future, rather than a spectator.”

The Fréttablaðið editorial today also focuses on this new phase of Iceland’s application. Excerpt:

People can then discuss the issue based on what is on the table, as opposed to speculation, exaggerations or old wives’ tales, such as that EU accession will involve military duty or that the fishing zone will fill up with foreign trawlers.

There is also a good op-ed piece in the paper by Jón Karl Helgason on the subject, with particular reference to the hullabaloo about the EU discussion Iceland’s application on June 17, [gasp!] Iceland’s National Day:

The fact is that the quest for independence never ends. Small nations like ours must consistently search for ways to secure their positions and independence in a precarious and ever-changing world. They basically have two options: to trust in one powerful supporter (a big brother) or to be a participant in a multi-national collaboration of equals (belong to a strong family). […] We can no longer trust in the United States as our big brother. Hillary Clinton’s cordial National Day wishes notwithstanding.

Meanwhile, Halldór, Iceland’s best political cartoonist, has this gem in today’s Fréttablaðið:

It shows Iceland getting into a hot tub with the EU countries wearing a rubber lifesaver with the inscription “exemptions and provisions” and complaining: “Jesus – on top of everything, it’s wet!”

Seriously, sometimes you just have to laugh.

Comments

comments

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Michael Schulz June 18, 2010, 12:30 pm

    Trust this decision by EU was merely a formality after UK and Dutch signalled their agreement. Countdown has begun. The train is running and Iceland has two options: get on the train and have a future; or be hit by the train and live in the past. Missing the train is no longer an option.
    However, to date the handling or non-handling of the issue by the government/Althingi has been pathetic.
    Cheers,
    Michael
    Ps.: Recommend you read also Sigrun Davidsdottir’s Icelog on same issue.

  • kevin oconnor,waterford ireland June 18, 2010, 2:27 pm

    Iceland gets to keep its fishing grounds but has to drop the whale hunting industry seems a good deal to me ,plus if you join the euro then you lose control over your interest rates and indexing might have to go, which seems good news for all those Icelanders that have been dutifully paying off various loans and find themselves owing more than when they first started said loan ha ha.

  • Mike Richards June 18, 2010, 3:08 pm

    And as expected the UK is already hinting that it will block accession until the Landsbanki/Icesave issue is concluded.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/jun/17/uk-threat-block-iceland-eu

    I guess that’s what David Cameron meant by a positive approach to the EU – positively screwing the whole thing up.

  • kevin oconnor,waterford ireland June 18, 2010, 3:57 pm

    @Mike Richards I think Iceland needs its day in court over this ICESAVE thing being a sovereign debt.

  • Michael Lewis June 18, 2010, 4:39 pm

    “I guess that’s what David Cameron meant by a positive approach to the EU”

    He’d be doing Iceland a favor. People who think the ‘EU’ is the future … I recommend a bit of travel, rack up some air-miles. It is a hell of a long way from the future.

  • Bromley86 June 18, 2010, 4:52 pm

    That’s always an option Kevin. Indeed all Iceland has to do is not respond to the EFTA letter referred to in that article Mike links to.

    However there is no requirement for the UK/NL to provide financing. At the momement they’re offering excellent terms (excellent terms if it is a sovereign debt, that is). There’s nothing to force them to offer such terms or even to loan the money at all if a court finds against Iceland, in which case the cost of borrowing will increase.

    What’s the market rate for Iceland debt at the moment? I’d guess (but it would be just that) double the IMF/Nordic/UK/NL sort of rates.

  • goupil June 18, 2010, 6:33 pm

    It looks like the new Information Initiative just voted by the Althingi
    with an overwhelming majority will have to go. I doubt very much that the european institutions will tolerate such freedom of speech.
    In france Hadopi and the like passed in accordance with the EU commission have criminalized even the “hosting” of controversial arguments.
    I look forward reading proper arguments by people who advocate Iceland entry in the EU
    Yours
    Christian

  • sylvia hikins June 18, 2010, 7:40 pm

    When some of your obvious characters start to scaremonger against joining the EU just ask yourself the simple question- what’s in it for them if they keep the status quo?
    sylvia from viking wirral

  • Virgile June 18, 2010, 9:24 pm

    halldors’ drawning from the 16th was even better !

    “No we don’t want the EU. He says this is bad for his coconuts business”

    Link: http://blogg.visir.is/halldorbaldurs/?p=321

    cheers

  • alda June 18, 2010, 9:45 pm

    Virgile — with all due respect, I don’t agree.

  • Joerg June 18, 2010, 11:00 pm

    Scaremongering is just another business strategy. It is worth to consider, who would be taking the benefits.

    The EU is far from being perfect. But only as a member, Iceland can help shape its future for the better.

  • roughdoggo June 18, 2010, 11:56 pm

    Ah, yes, Sylvia – the EU is so full of opportunity!

    Amongst other things, you’ve mentioned the marvelous vistas that will open to young Icelanders once Icelandic EU membership is a fact: they’ll be able to get jobs in the EU! If so, they must be on to something the continent’s under-twenty-fives are ignorant of, given that there is 20% unemployment for that age bracket in EU la-la land.

    And one can only laugh at the “participant in a multi-national collaboration of equals” tripe from Jón Karl Helgason. Imagine dragging that chestnut during a time when the papers are full of news indicating that strong forces at several levels in the EU are pushing for elimination of voting rights of the smaller EU countries on key issues. Some equality – hopping to the Franco-German tune!

  • whatever June 19, 2010, 2:25 am

    lol..imagine…some Reykjavites have been dreaming of to get rid of some parts of Iceland as as they are to “small and expensive”….they will be very welcome into our shoes…muhahaha
    I personally don’t approve EU for Iceland, but as a member of the rural community, I just might.

  • Gwrhyr June 19, 2010, 4:43 pm

    Michael Schulz, your comment about missing the EU train is just as ridiculous as the IP’s anti-EU rhetoric. I’m beginning to get sick of the stupid rhetoric on BOTH sides. Switzerland and Norway prove that it is possible to thrive outside of the EU, so that takes care of your train-wreck argument. Iceland not being in the EU does not mean that Iceland would not or could not integrate with Europe. Iceland is already a member of EEA and will stay a member.

    There many good arguments for and against EU membership for Iceland. Sadly, the rhetoric on both sides is either fear-mongering or pointless allegory.