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Support for EU talks goes up

Apparently support for EU negotiations has gone up again and is now around 64%, according to a survey conducted for Fréttablaðið. The results are published in the paper today and on visir.is.

Clearly Davíð Oddsson and his cronies need to up the ante a little bit — spew some more anti-EU propaganda out among the masses.

Speaking of which, the quote of the day goes to Össur Skarphéðinsson, who as Foreign Minister is one of the most active proponents of EU talks. In DV today, he says that the “sea barons” [those who own the fishing quotas and are most vehement in their opposition to the EU] offend public sensibilities with their tactics:

They use the profits from the fall of the krona to pay off the massive losses of Morgunblaðið [their mouthpiece], which they abuse to protect what they mistakenly consider their own interests, and fight against the interests of the public, which of course are to allow the public to vote on EU accession in a national referendum.

Ay-men.

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  • Michael Lewis September 28, 2010, 11:37 am

    ” protect what they mistakenly consider their own interests, ”

    So, he thinks he is a better position to consider their interests than themselves. The starting point for any EU proponent. Always, they seem to think they know better.

    “some more anti-EU propaganda ”
    Which some would consider, just giving an alternative view?

  • mandrill September 28, 2010, 11:43 am

    How exactly would joining the EU benefit Iceland? Coming from an EU member state myself I find their over-regulation of everything and the costs seem to far outweigh the benefits. Maybe I’m not seeing the whole picture though (its a bit tricky when you can’t read Icelandic very well)

    Here’s where I stand at the moment:
    I think the EU’s various institutions are a bunch of overpaid bureaucrats who simply like to poke their noses in where they have no business. The majority of EU states ignore most of the useless regulations (regulating the curve of a banana, come off it.) are pointless and only serve to justify their inflated budget.

    Did you know, for example, that Former EU comissioners can continue to claim their over inflated salaries for up to 5 years if they don’t take another political position in an EU government? We pay for that. We pay for the big houses and fancy cars of the political elite, even when they’re not actually doing anything for us. How is that right?

    The EU is a mess of red tape, conflicting regulations and political manouvering. It seems to be all about power, control and lining politician’s pockets rather than actually making life better for the people of the EU. I would have thought Iceland would have had quite enough of that kind of behaviour.

    I know that I don’t really have any right to tell the Icelandic what to do with their country, and I maybe don’t have the complete story. If you can convince me that the EU would be good for Iceland as a whole then I’m willing to listen.

  • Albert September 28, 2010, 12:21 pm

    There is propaganda all over the place, from both sides. For example, the banana curve story is a complete myth. Dates back to 1994, and it still lives on.

    There is only one question I want answered. If Iceland does not join the EU, how can there be long term stability of the local currency? The Krona oscillates all over the place, to the long term detriment of the local economy (I am not just referring to the events 2008). It is easy to be against the EU, but I really want to hear solutions to Iceland’s ongoing currency mess.

  • Jim September 28, 2010, 1:02 pm

    @mandrill From my perspective, joining the EU would help break the Old Boys gangs of power and facilitate a more egalitarian rule set. Living in Iceland as I do, there is a certain sense that the top of the pyramid can’t truly be shaken up without the help of some EU regulation.

    Other pros could be that Iceland could have a buffer-like protection of loans from fellow EU members in case of economic problems without the nasty “to’ing and fro’ing” of the dreaded Icesave issue.

    As far as I understand it, Iceland is already legally in line with most of the EU regulations anyway, so I don’t foresee massive problems short of the bendy banana brigade.

  • Kris September 28, 2010, 3:46 pm

    I’m against joining the EU. Does that mean I support the IP? Hell no. Abolishing the quota system can be done locally. If you can’t force local politicians to make positive changes, how can you expect to do that in Brussels? The quota system was obviously an IP theft, so why are the lefties not repealing the laws? Answer: because they are a part of the same Reykjavik oligarchy sucking the money out of the villages around the country.
    This chubby sleepyhead is a nogoodnick! More red herring for the people to feed on. Ossur should go back to sleep and leave the people alone.

  • Rajan Parrikar September 28, 2010, 4:34 pm

    Terrible idea, Iceland joining the EU. No, wait. Cross that out. Terrific idea. 50,000 Icelanders will gain instant employment processing the 5 million asylum applications from third world migrants wanting to settle down in the hitherto uninhabited Highlands. It’ll be an instant shot in the arm for the construction industry: 25,000 Icelanders can be employed in the construction of holding pens for asylum seekers while their applications are being processed. And between 5000-10000 Icelanders can be put to work in the court system specially set up to handle immigration. A stroke of genius, really, this EU membership.

  • The Fred from the forums September 28, 2010, 5:53 pm

    The Euro is a benefit but could also hurt if Iceland had a need to devalue. A currency union with the Nordic friends is an alternative, though it wouldn’t offer the option of support from the European Central Bank.

  • Joerg September 28, 2010, 9:09 pm

    RP – it’s always odd to see people with apparent immigrational background indulge in xenophobic ideas about the dangers of immigration – particularly weird and out of place in the context of Iceland’s EU membership.

    There is still a difference between Iceland becoming member of EU and the euro zone. But as Iceland as a member of the EEA has already adopted many regulations of the EU anyway, I can’t see any advantage of staying on the sidelines of the EU without a proper voice . So, it’s good to see support for EU rising.

  • Rajan Parrikar September 28, 2010, 10:30 pm

    I was wondering how long it would take before the x-word made its first grand entry. I knew the r-word would be difficult to stick in this instance because I am, after all, a brownie.

    So, Joerg, would it matter if the concern came from someone not from an “immigrational background”?

  • mandrill September 28, 2010, 11:32 pm

    @ Rajan and Joerg: Lets not go there please. This is a purely economic and political issue and the immigration angle is a smokescreen simply because it is an emotive one and gets people riled up. Third world asylum seekers are discerning in their choice of where to ask for asylum. They’d much rather be somewhere there is a slight chance of them getting a job if their request is successful than somewhere there are no jobs.

    My questioning of the benefits of EU membership comes from having lived in the UK (I live in Reykjavik now) and all we seem to have seen from the mandarins in Europe are regulations and dictats telling us we’re doing something wrong when to be quite blunt a lot of what they’re regulating is frankly none of their business. It would seem that Iceland falls in line with a large proportion of EU law as it is so it boils down to being an economic question. Can Iceland afford to be in the EU?

    The impression I’ve had is that membership ultimately costs more than whatever the members get out of it, but then I am from the UK which is one of the better off member states. Maybe it would be to Iceland’s benefit.

    I still think that swapping one set of underhanded politicians, who live on your doorstep, for another bunch who are a long way away is a bit daft. Better the devil who’s address you know than the devil who’s address you don’t and all that.

    (and Albert, I was aware that the banana story was apocryphal, I was being rhetorical ;D)

  • George Grosman September 29, 2010, 3:32 am

    The EU may not be a sinking ship but it’s a ship that’s badly listing. If Spain, Portugal etc…go the way of Greece, Germany will not come to the rescue and the Euro will be the first casualty. A much better idea would be a North Atlantic alliance with Canada: a country with enormous natural resources, solid banking system and stable currency. I was in the Czech Republic when it joined the EU in 2004. Support of the union has since slipped from over 70% to just above 50% in light of the recent economic difficulties.

  • idunn September 29, 2010, 5:35 am

    Fuller discussion of EU membership of Iceland would mention specific details, many of which I’m ignorant of. One factor that comes to mind is the recent, and ongoing, experience of France with the Roma gypsies from Romania (now of course an EU member). Not an easy question, and all the more difficult with open borders within the EU. This world is grossly over-populated, far beyond sustainability, and at least in this Iceland would do itself a favor in remaining more balanced.

    In that to come energy of any type will be a prized possession. If that in Iceland is not readily exportable, it remains a valuable asset best retained for the welfare of the nation, not controlled and exploited by outside interests. Same for all other natural resources.

  • IloveIceland September 29, 2010, 6:20 am

    Icelanders DO NOT LET THEM TAKE YOUR NATION AWAY!

    The “elite” and “connected” in Iceland want to sell out the common citizens. EU membership means loosing control of your nation…forever. Do not let this happen. Spread the word, and get active. Do not be silent. Let the world see what Viking blooded free people can do! Stay independent!

    If you want the rapes and assaults that Sweden, Holland, Denmark and others have from immigrant criminals … join the EU. If you want to stay free and safe…DO NOT JOIN

  • Joerg September 29, 2010, 6:59 am

    “This is a purely economic and political issue and the immigration angle is a smokescreen simply because it is an emotive one and gets people riled up.”

    mandrill – this is exactly my point.

    RP – To answer your question, even if I don’t approve of the underlying insinuations – I would expect, that somebody, who appears to have some familiarity with the delicate issue of immigration by own experience as stated on his own public profile, might by default be able to argue more substantiated than somebody, who isn’t. Apparently, I seem to be wrong in this case.

    Maybe it’s worth noting that some countries like UK, Ireland and Denmark have opted out of a common EU immigration policy. So, immigration is widely still a matter of national regulations. And as Iceland is member of the Schengen area, everybody holding a visum for any Schengen country is entitled to enter Iceland already now.

  • kevin oconnor,waterford,ireland September 29, 2010, 11:26 am

    Join the EU now, EURO ist wunderbar, take the quotas away from them cod barons, I like it when rich people become poor very nice to see them cry,tears dripping down their faces Boo Hoo Hoo Hooo, vote Ja for a vast european socialist superstate, EU subsidies are very good I like my food subsidized, Medical socialised, Pension socialised, housing the lot,cradle to grave welfare state socialism like the Swedes they are cool plus I like ABBA and IKEA. Keep the red flag flying there comrade citizens.

  • Flo September 29, 2010, 12:31 pm

    Alda, could you elaborate on why Iceland should join the EU? Or have you done that already in a previous post? I honestly don’t really see what benefits you would get from EU membership but then again I don’t read Icelandic so I’m pretty uneducated on the subject.

  • Rajan Parrikar September 29, 2010, 6:48 pm

    Joerg – The issue of immigration is not one that I can adequately treat within the space of a brief blog entry. I perfectly understand the inherent human urge to seek a better life for oneself. But lax immigration policy and the indiscriminate flow of migrants from the poor world to the developed world is not the answer. You will simply be importing poverty and degrading your own quality of life. Please forgive those of us who do not have the high-minded self-sacrificial Gandhian tendencies that you perhaps are blessed with.

    Since you brought it up: it is because I have experience with migrants that I know a thing or two about it. My hometown of Goa, not long ago a paradise, is today overrun by migrants from the rest of India (and there’s nothing we Goans can do about it). Our identity is being obliterated and our land slummified and rendered a squalid mess. There are only 1.5 million of us surrounded by an ocean of 1.1 billion. You do the math. A similar thing can happen to Iceland – to disturb its balance you need far fewer numbers. As a lover of Iceland, I do not want it getting Amsterdamned or going down the path of Londonistan and Stockholmistan. Let the far Leftists find another place for their multicultural social experiments (until they can, that is, before Sharia-compliance sets in).

  • Ralphie September 29, 2010, 8:18 pm

    Alda, I’m surprised you moderated my last comment into the bit bucket. Certainly, it was direct and sarcastic–but not insulting. Moreover, I think my points are spot on.

    You usually seem to have a thicker skin.

    I’m actually trying to persuade you to change your opinion on reasonable grounds. The EU is undemocratic. It is, like most modern governments (Iceland’s especially included), infected with a country club mentality far detached from the reality of ordinary families. The EU’s finances are a train wreck in slow motion and Iceland should not be playing on the tracks.

    So what say you. I would appreciate reading a post where you address these particular points.

  • sylvia hikins September 29, 2010, 11:34 pm

    Negotiate hard. Join the EU. Keep out of the Euro. Done and dusted!
    You’ll get loads of dosh to develop tourism.
    sylvia from viking wirral

  • Bromley86 September 30, 2010, 1:58 pm

    @George Grosman
    >A much better idea would be a North Atlantic alliance with Canada

    My preferred option is Iceland joining Norway – seems a better fit for loads of reasons. However, both cases suffer from the problem that no one is interested.

    The EU is the only option on the table.

    @Rajan. Neither “Londonistan” nor “Stockholmistan” are the products of the EU. They are products of their national governments’ policies. Iceland is already exposed to the exact risk that you talk of regarding Goa as it is already within the Schengen area. Actually, the relative numbers are very similar.

    Now, if you want a real reason for Iceland to not join, anything with “European” and “Court” in the name is a good one.

  • George Grosman September 30, 2010, 8:35 pm

    Bromley, agreed re: joining Norway…lots of petro wealth there too. Canada has the advantage of already having a large Icelandic community and the ability to easily absorb 300K more people (not that Icelanders would be abandoning ship en mass, I’m just saying 😉 The Canadian dollar is strong at the moment and with the U.S. economy in the doldrums, destined to stay strong for a while. Plus, unlike Norway, a Canadian passport allows easier access to the 300 million strong U.S. market.

    The EU is a dead horse. OK, not dead yet but on life support. The idea of a common market was and is an excellent one. But the idea of some United States of Europe is simply not possible because the political, cultural, linguistic and economic differences between, say, Romania and Germany are far, far larger than between Mississippi and Michigan

  • Bjartur October 1, 2010, 2:08 pm

    Well…reg Oessur… I do not like this man. He was in the bankruptcy government the minister for industries when I remember right. So he was (or at least should have been if not completely unqualified) informed about the economic situation in Iceland which OF COURSE also includes the financial sector. Is he trying to tell us that there was no inter-ministry exchange so he could not have known? I also will never forget the News at RUV of the “good old days” of the pots and pans revolution, when you cold see angry and desperate people making themselves heard, a laughing Oessur was standing in the sky-way of Althingi building and watching the demonstration. This laughing face was one of the most cynical impressions of this time I have. I do not trust this guy and I think of him as unfit for any responsible job in running this country…and this man is now representing the whole Nation to the world.

  • David October 2, 2010, 11:20 pm

    I do agree with Mandrill on Europe. But Iceland must take on another currency because Iceland does not have the competence to manage a Central Bank as history shows. And it is understandable. Iceland has a very shallow talent pool.

    I don’t think the Euro is the currency of choice. It’s has almost no history – who knows if it will survive.

    Pick rather a currency that has a history. Just pick a flavor. It is helpful to pick one that matches trading patterns best though (i.e. import and exports). Unfortunately, even though most trade is with Europe, the Euro is untested long-term. So, the American dollar is a possibility from a trading standpoint.

    However, the Canadian dollar is almost as good. Not because of trading but because of the possibility of political acceptance for the reasons George mentions.

    And the majority of the Icelandic population live on the North American tectonic plate. So, join your brothers and sisters in Canada who also came from Europe who “got over it” and no longer feel a connection to that continent.

    The Euro: untested. The Canadian or the American dollar have been around for a long time and have stood the test of time. Dollarize (Canadian or US) and have a stable and predictable exchange rate with a huge population that will lead to enormous growth for Iceland.

    Lots of precedents. Puerto Rico is a Spanish-speaking population, uses the American dollar but has sovereignty. I’m sure there are Canadian equivalents. But you don’t need to join either country. Just adopt the currency.

    The issues over fishing quotas go away. The Euro babel red tape is irrelevant. All the work to align Icelandic law with the EEA is irrelevant but continue to take advantage of the advantages of that.

    Iceland has many choices. Not just one choice: join the Euro or not?

  • Bromley86 October 4, 2010, 10:21 pm

    But how does Iceland adopt the USD? The US doesn’t just give them to them.

  • David October 4, 2010, 11:47 pm

    Here is some info on that:

    http://www.forbes.com/forbes/1999/0503/6309208a_print.html

    Ecuador is a case-in-point:

    http://www.mindspring.com/~tbgray/dollar.htm

    Dollarization refers to any currency that is adopted:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dollarization

  • waste October 6, 2010, 6:50 pm

    oh David, dolarize Iceland? I remember a very good example of the benefits of dolarisation. It was called argentina. lol lol

    Adopting a currency you cant issue, isnt a whole smart idea. Joining the EU but keeping your currency maybe the best choice.
    That is if you really can resist the sirens of neo-liberal EU bureaucrats, trying to make you sell everything that has value in order to “pay-back your debts”. And judging from what I read, your politicians are not exactly Odyssey when it comes to sirens.

  • David October 6, 2010, 7:05 pm

    True waste. I also remember a very good example of not dollarizing. It’s called Iceland… 😉

  • waste October 7, 2010, 7:28 am

    well, Iceland didnt go under because it hadnt got a stable currency (like USD), it went under because some greedy bankers in collusion with some greedy politicians made a huge bubble out of the banking system.

    The public debt of iceland was only 20% by the time of the collapse and the currency was stable (no inflation to speak of etc).

    You dollarize a country in order to fight an unstable currency and inflation, like the Argentinians did back in the 90s. And it worked for some time but it has major drawbacks as a move (for example adopting interest rates not suitable for your country). Iceland on the other hand had none of argentina’s problems i can think of. So why adapt the dollar and the subsequent drawbacks?

    Dollarization is a wild beast and not a solution that fits all problems.
    Having a fully convertible currency right now, is the last problem icelanders face.

    just my 2 cents
    cheers 😉

  • David October 7, 2010, 1:18 pm

    Actually, Iceland had a very high inflation rate and the Icelandic “Central Bank” was impotent in trying to fight it with their interest rate targeting.

    Take a look at this amusing graph where you see the target (red line) and the reality:

    http://www.sedlabanki.is/?pageid=201

    That’s over a period of 7 years.

    And the Icelandic currency was very unstable (went way up and then down).

    Dollarzing is used in countries too where central bankers are susceptible to cronyism and political pressure, can be appointed on who they know rather than what they know (ie having expertise in the field).

    As I said, the talent pool in Iceland is too shallow to yield someone who can truly run the central bank with sufficient expertise and they can’t afford (nor would it be politically acceptable) to hire someone with the expertise from another country.

    If you can’t afford to do it correctly, it’s better to dollarize.

    True, you deprive yourself of control over your monetary policy but if you don’t know how to do it correctly then you could easily crash your economy too. by over-steering in one direction or the other. For the same reason, you wouldn’t let your 7 year old drive your automobile either. You should have someone else drive him or her instead. 🙂

  • waste October 8, 2010, 7:28 am

    David, thank you for the very informative graph. The only problem with inflation I can see before the collapse (inflation after the collapse of the currency is to be expected, and no banker can contain it easily) was during the period of 2006-2007 (inflation of over 5-6%. An inflation of 4% was expected in countries expanding like ireland or greece for example even within the eurozone). While I dont know the specifics of icelandic policy, couldnt that inflation be an infusion of hot (foreign) money coming in a very small economy messing it up? If I remember correctly the timing was right (and it also explains the wild swings of the exchange value up and down). Which of course turn us back to your question of croyonism.

    As for the political pressure, to be honest there is no such thing as a “independent” central bank. And when the neo-liberals call for an “independent central bank”, they usually mean independent of political pressure but dependent on the fellow banker’s needs. You can see that both in the policy of ECB and FED. They infuse huge amounts of liquidity to bankrupt banks, while at the same time they suggest austerity for everybody else. I ll certainly wouldnt call that independent 🙂

    I understand your bitterness about the political and bussiness class of your country, but unfortunately you cant really import a new better one from abroad. In greece we had the expertise of the “best” (Gsachs, MerLynch, MorgStanley) and we paid huge amount of money for their services, and guess what ? They were serving themselves and not the country’s needs.

    The icelandic collapse wasnt inflation driven (inflation had nothing to do with it). It was greedy ponzi driven. And as I understand from what Ive read, the people in charge of the collapse are still in the same positions (minus the PM and some ministers). So the best thing you can do, is drive them away if you can, replacing them with honest people. You are a small country, its easier to see who’s honest and not greedy.
    Honest Banking is a suprisingly simple occupation. The difficult part is the “honest”. Much of the “expertise” of the golden boys went to creation of complex derivatives in order to foul the clients (and collapse the economy in the process). And as Paul Volker said (ex FED, highly praised as an inflation slayer) “the only true inovation that banks introduced during the last 30 years, was the ATM”.

    thank you again for your insight.

  • David October 8, 2010, 10:57 am

    Excellent comments waste. Thanks!

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