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“This is where Iceland could be very useful”

An article that appeared on The Guardian website yesterday has a pretty astute take on the Iceland-EU situation. Surely of interest to anyone who wonders what on earth the EU could possibly want with Iceland.

Despite the banking dispute, many leaders across Europe are keen to see Iceland in the union because of its strategic value and location in the north Atlantic.

“There [has been] a lot of discussion recently of the strategic importance of the Arctic area. This is where Iceland could be very useful,” said Fuele.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch …

The greater opposition to EU membership is in Iceland itself, which has jealously guarded its independence for decades. […] While the government applied to join the EU last year, the population remains divided, not least because the main industry, fishing, would fall under Brussels’ discredited common fisheries policy.

Read the full article here.

Comments

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  • Tom Thumb February 27, 2010, 12:34 am

    O noes! You are sitting on Unobtanium! 🙂

    Watch out for undiscovered natural gas and oil underneath your piece of the Ocean. Don’t let the EU capture them!

    Where I live they just found 1.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (Marcellus Shale formation). The proposed drilling will destroy our acquifers, our farming soils, and our air. It never occurs to my neighbors to nationalize our resources and to harbor our revenues from them the way the Norwegians have. No one here can see past the visions of wealth to see the destruction to our environment. I feel ashamed of my fellow country-persons and their greed. Just like something out Avatar!

  • Michael Lewis February 27, 2010, 5:11 am

    It is no secret and people have banged on for quite some time that Iceland has Natural Resources. Letting the EU have that , whilst enjoying the benefits of the Spanish fishing fleet, funding the French farming industry, bailing out the corrupt Greek finances, … all those wonderful benefits. I honestly think it would be insane for Iceland to want to join the EU. Its morally, politically (and in some countries economically) bankrupt.

    And the old tensions still pop up, witness Greece complaining about the Nazis taking their gold.

    Thankfully, we, with the allies, have defeated the Germany military every time of asking, but we still had Gordon Brown flog off our Gold cheaply. Shame…

  • cactus zonie February 27, 2010, 5:59 am

    If it Quacks like a Duck ………

    We have all been had by the BANKERS !!

    ICESLAVE WILL NOT BE PAID !!! IT CAN NOT BE PAID !!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7OmyncI1dU&feature=player_embedded

  • kevin oconnor,waterford ireland February 27, 2010, 6:09 am

    FT does editorial looking at it from Icelands side, end of the day you have lots of fish and electricity. The point made that the amounts are trivial compared to UKplc and Holland,lets face it they would get thru that in welfare fraud in 1 month, 4 billion euros,let alone the amounts that have been “invested wisely in Iraq”.
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a62e05b8-230f-11df-a25f-00144feab49a.html

    Remember vote no and if things turn out right Iceland will be a multi millionaire free zone in a few years,yes comrade citizens what a nice cosy thought, keep the red flag flying there as we giggle at capitalism’s darkest hour ha ha ha.

  • Joerg February 27, 2010, 1:55 pm

    I still think, there are far more good reasons to join the EU than not. And if in doubt, just look at who is against it, this will help to decide in favour.

    Of course, as problems are currently arising in the EU, all the notorious EU sceptics feel challenged to rehash the same old stories about the evilness of the EU. It’s not new and nothing to really take serious. As far as Iceland is concerned – it was the same before the EEA accession negotiations. I just hope, there are more competent people in Iceland at hand than the Icesave negotiators.

    It is most unpleasant to see that people with nationalistic stereotypes, hackneyed clichés and generalizations are currently dominating the public debate. I am from Germany and visited Greece last week and found most helpful and friendly people there.

  • sylvia hikins February 27, 2010, 7:17 pm

    Thank you Joerg for your measured response. I do actually believe that Iceland would continue to own its natural resources (unless it decided to privatise them which it could do either in or out of the EU) if it became a member of the EU!!
    sylvia from viking wirral

  • idunn February 27, 2010, 10:45 pm

    Should if prove to Iceland’s advantage to join, perhaps Iceland could prove of benefit to the EU in demanding that the EU adopt their fisheries policy, not the other way round. As the far larger group one could envision the EU objecting to such terms as presumptuous, until perhaps trying to explain in public how their fisheries policy and practices superior.

    As for the arctic, perhaps the nations of the world should spend more effort in trying to keep it frozen, rather than exploiting the mess they’ve made.

  • Chris Cook February 28, 2010, 12:16 am

    I’m in favour of the EU in principle but I think that in practice it needs to be re-built from the ground up.

    More to the point, in view of the problems of Greece, and other bigger debt problems bubbling under elsewhere in the EU, it rather seems to me that Icelanders might see accession as jumping from the frying pan into the fire….

  • Michael Lewis February 28, 2010, 7:45 am

    ” I am from Germany and visited Greece last week and found most helpful and friendly people there.”

    I’m sure there are, but from that statistical nonentity to:

    ” all the notorious EU sceptics feel challenged to rehash the same old stories about the evilness of the EU. It’s not new and nothing to really take serious”

    that strikes me as somewhat arrogant. To dismiss EU sceptics, and say they shouldn’t be taken seriously, is misguided, and put simply for you – stupidity.

    Iceland has vast natural resources, as a country , it simply doesn’t need ‘help’ from the EU.

  • Bromley86 February 28, 2010, 1:57 pm

    To dismiss EU sceptics, and say they shouldn’t be taken seriously, is misguided, and put simply for you – stupidity.

    Depends who he’s dismissing. If it’s people with reasoned arguments, then that would be true.

    However, I suspect that Joerg was referring to the sort of person who tries to influence people by warning that joining the EU will lead to Icelanders being drafted into an EU army.

    Also, do you have any examples, other than fish, of resources that the EU will take? Because that’s another nonsensical anti-EU argument that one often hears.

  • Michael Lewis February 28, 2010, 3:45 pm

    Bromley, I don’t recall ever suggesting that Icelanders would be drafted into an EU army. Not sure where you got that from, perhaps you could re-read the posts made. I pointed out that Iceland has numerous natural resources and that it can survive quite happily without membership of the EU. Either your post deliberately misconstrued my view or, perhaps, more likely, simply you got it wrong.

  • Geo8rge February 28, 2010, 6:07 pm

    Joining the EU or not. A sports betting / comparative advantage approach.

    In my attempt to answer the question: ‘Should Iceland join the EU’ in 15 min (using Malcom Gladwell blink thinking) I would suggest the rational decision should be based on an economic comparative advantage visa vis other nations analysis of both future possibilities. Unfortunately that would take more than 15 min. As an alternative I would notice that most every other European nation has chosen the same approach to most policy decisions. So it would seem unlikely that joining the EU is paying anything better than even money. So I would say staying out of the EU and avoiding the problems associated with EU regulation, and yes immigration policy, offers tiny Iceland the best chance to as the gamblers say ‘get the best of it’.

    The current financial problems also seem to limit the amount of bailout the Europeans are willing to extend Iceland in the short term.

    So my Gladwelling + sports betting analysis yields little short and no long term benefit to Iceland.

    Bonus unintended consequences analysis and horror stories (10 min of thinking):
    Joining the EU may conflict with other Icelandic economic policies, for example your journalism free speech zone plan. It may be that a truly multicultural society cannot easily tolerate unregulated free speech. I would explain more but I would have to get politically incorrect.

    You should also be suspicious of how much say in your own affairs 300,000 Icelanders will have against a billion Europeans. Not good odds.

    Joining an organization that involves agricultural subsidies is also a bad idea as it is unlikely Iceland will ever get any of that swag.

    You may also notice that European foreign / Military policy has gotten a bit crazy. Beyond the war in Iraqistan, didn’t stationing first rate combat jets in Iceland seem insane. This kind of insanity is what happens when you submit to a large bureaucracy.

  • Andrew (the other one) February 28, 2010, 7:21 pm

    @geo8rge

    Stationing aircraft in Iceland is a NATO decision, not a European one. NATO includes Canada and the United States. The EU doesn’t do much on strategic military decisions. Also Europe was very divided about Iraq and about Afghanistan.

  • Peter - London February 28, 2010, 7:33 pm

    “Should if prove to Iceland’s advantage to join, perhaps Iceland could prove of benefit to the EU in demanding that the EU adopt their fisheries policy, not the other way round. ”

    Thats seems to be exactly what the EU appraisal of Iceland seems to be suggesting. The Common Fisheries policy is being changed, one idea is that fisheries policy would be devolved back to the individual countries.
    Of course you won’t hear much about this from the EU haters, they will claim that the EU will take over your resources, which is rubbish of course. The EU wants countries to develop ans SELL their resources within the EU is possible.

  • Bromley86 February 28, 2010, 9:00 pm

    Bromley, I don’t recall ever suggesting that Icelanders would be drafted into an EU army.

    Not surprising as I didn’t suggest that you did.

    Likewise I wasn’t suggesting that you think the EU would somehow steal Iceland’s resources, but there are plenty that do. Indeed, with excellent timing, Dadi has just posted about people just like that:
    http://www.economicdisasterarea.com/index.php/features/iceland-gets-uglier-by-the-day/

    That is the sort of person that I suggested Joerg might be referring to.

    Geo8rge
    Beyond the war in Iraqistan, didn’t stationing first rate combat jets in Iceland seem insane.

    The Russians keep sending planes into Icelandic airspace.

  • Sigvaldi Eggertsson February 28, 2010, 10:07 pm

    Geo8rge, Russia has not sent any planes into Icelandic airspace without the leave of Icelandic authorities.
    You probably refer to Russian intrusions into the Icelandic air defense identification zone but that is well outside Icelandic airspace.
    The ADIZ was an area set up by the US forces and the Icelandic defence agency is still monitoring that and reports every intrusion in an attempt to justify it’s existence.