Proposal of EU talks put forward mainly to promote discussions

A workgroup on foreign affairs within the Icelandic Progressive Party has suggested that the party should put membership negotiation with the European Union on the agenda during this term. The Progressive Party holds its general meeting this weekend and members of the party will decide during it whether they support this suggestion or not. However, the chairman of the workgroup, Ármann Höskuldsson, said in an interview today with the Icelandic radio station Bylgjan that these suggestions were mainly put forward to promote discussions during the meeting about matters concerning Iceland and the EU. He also said in a TV interview with Stöð 2 this evening that he did not expect the suggestions to be approved as the workgroup has recommended.

But in any case the Progressive Party as such has not decided to put negotiations with the EU on the agenda or any such thing. So far it has merely been suggested by the workgroup on foreign affairs. The members of this workgroup were neither elected nor hand picked for the job. On the contrary any member of the Progressive Party could join it according to Siv Friðleifsdóttir, MP for the party, in an interview with Bylgjan today. One of its members was the chairman of the European Movement in Iceland who is a member of the party.

It was made clear today that the leadership of the Progressive Party had as such nothing to do with these suggestions according to the online version of the Icelandic newspaper Morgunblaðið. Also the vice chairman of the party and Minister of Agriculture, Guðni Ágústsson, has declared his absolute opposition to them. He also said today that there are simply no reasons for Iceland to consider joining the EU. The chairman of the party, Halldór Ásgrímsson Prime Minister, has refused to comment on the issue saying he will discuss it during the meeting.

Jón Kristjánsson, the Icelandic Minister of Health and MP for the Progressive Party, said in an interview with the National Broadcasting Service this afternoon that if these suggestions would be approved during the general meeting it would be a clear violation of the pact between the two parties forming the present coalition government in Iceland, the Progressive Party itself and the Independence Party, which states that EU membership is not on the agenda. He also said that all there was on the agenda was to fulfill the pact throughout this term.

And Árni Magnússon, the Icelandic Minister of Social Affairs and MP for the Progressive Party, said this evening in a TV interview with Stöð 2 that he was opposed to membership talks with the EU. That means three out of five ministers of the party have today openly expressed their opposition to the suggestions. It is also clear that there is a tough resistance to any such suggestions among common members of the party.

But even if these suggestions would be approved by the members of the Progressive Party during the meeting this weekend, which is far from being certain, it is hard to imagine them to come true considering many reason and not the least the fact that the Independence Party is utterly against EU membership.

Besides, how could the Progressive Party put membership talks with the EU on the agenda in the government if at least three out of its five ministers are opposed to the idea?

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