Iceland’s fisheries and EU membership do not go hand in hand

A joint committee by the Icelandic Ministries of Fisheries and Foreign Affairs and groups of interests in the field of the fisheries believes an EU membership would not be in the interests of the Icelandic fisheries as the situation is now. The committee indicates that Icelandic authorities have always emphasised certain main issues when discussing the matters of the fisheries on international scene. The basic issue there is that Iceland must hold full authority over Icelandic waters and other natural resources. This is among the things in a newly published report from the committee on Iceland, the fisheries and the EU.

"There are different opinions regarding if and how the rights and interests of the Icelandic people could be secured if Iceland decided to join the EU. Various parts of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) contravene the rights and interests of the Icelandic people. The CFP has in fact been changed somewhat and is in development and the enlargement of the EU will also influence the situation of Iceland. [However,] the public opinion in Iceland is that we cannot become memberstate of the EU unless our special interests, especially concerning the fisheries and the fish resources of the Icelandic waters, will be respected and ensured in all future with a permanent arrangement."

And the report continues: "The Icelandic people will not put the authority of their natural resources and livelihood in the hands of others, not at present nor in the future, and believe the EU's Common Fisheries Policy, which has been shaped with other nations and other circumstances in mind, cannot suit Iceland and the Icelandic people. The Icelandic people have an independent authority over Icelandic waters and their resources and will continue to do so. Icelanders have [also] great interests when it comes to fishing in foreign waters and dividend fishing stocks and will not surrender their independent right to conclude agreements concerning that."

The committe also commented on the ideas of the British Conservative Party, to reclaim Britain's authority over its waters, since they would undeniably affect Iceland's situation if made possible. The committe stresses that although it has no reason to doubt the sincere intention of the British Conservatives it believes their ideas to be farfetched. If they were to happen the British people would either have to leave the EU or manages somehow to get the other memberstates to accept special laws ensuring their authority which would not be easy if possible according to the report.

Press article: Morgunblaðið September 15, 2004.

The report by the committe (in Icelandic)