EU membership not on the agenda within the Icelandic Progressive Party

The result of the general meeting of the Iceland's ruling Progressive Party, which was held during this weekend, was that neither EU membership nor EU membership negotiations are on the agenda. The debate on the EU issue at the meeting was tough and is was obvious that there is a major opposition to EU membership within the party.

After a workgroup on foreign affairs within the Progressive Party had suggested before the weekend that the party should put membership negotiations with the EU on the agenda those supporting it were in constant retreat and had to withdraw one proposal after another during the meeting because of the opposition from eurosceptic members of the party.

According to the final version, which was at last approved yesterday (February 27), the previous process of gathering information, framing of objectives and possible preparation for membership negotiations with the EU will be continued within the party. The result of this work is to be introduced at the next general meeting in 2007. The final version then states that if there will be membership negotiations with the EU the results of it shall be put to a referendum.

In short this only means that the party is going to continue its previous work of putting together possible objectives for a possible membership negotiations which may possibly occur sometime in the future. So this is actually as vague as possible as one Icelandic journalist put it.

Earlier proposals had among other things included a paragraph saying the party should aim at membership talks with the EU during this term or the next one. They also had a paragraph claiming that in the light of "an indefinite standing" of the EEA agreement and "general evolution" of EU the interests of Iceland were likely to be better off within the Union. Both of these paragraphs were among those rejected at the meeting.

The wording of the final version of the Progressive Party's general meeting this weekend is actually much less determined than the resolution approved by the party's general meeting in 2003. At that time the party was doubtless nearer to EU membership negotiations than now. Also the resolution in 2003 left it open that the framing of Iceland's objectives in case of possible membership negotiations could be performed by official institutions and not only the party. But the verison approved now made it clear that this was only to be done within the party.

According to the news of the Icelandic TV station Stöð 2 yesterday those opposed to EU membership within the Progressive Party managed to undo all attempts of those of the opposite opinion to move the party nearer to membership negotiations with the Union. And the news of the Icelandic radio station Bylgjan said that during the general meeting it was like those in favour of EU membership negotiations "had seven reverse gears like was said about the Italian army during the Second World War." Their retreat was simply complete.

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Stöð 2