No change in policy towards the EU in Iceland says Foreign Minister Davíð Oddsson

Halldór Ásgrímsson, the Icelandic Prime Minister and chairman of the Progressive Party, has claimed there was a turning point in the party's attitute towards the European Union during the party's general meeting this weekend (February 25-27). The resolution accepted by the meeting was that "within the Progressive Party gathering of information and work on shaping objectives and possible preparation for membership negotiations with the EU would continue. The conclution of this work should be introduced during the next general meeting in the beginning of the year 2007. If membership negotiations would occur the conclution of them should be put to a referendum." In other words the party will continue its former policy of discussing possible preparation for possible EU membership negotiations which could possibly take place sometime in the future. This is in fact the same policy adopted by the Progressive Party's last general meeting in 2003.

Davíð Oddsson, Foreign Minister of Iceland and chairman of the Independence Party, said today in an interview with the National Broadcasting Service that this was no turning point at all. No new decisions had been made, neither within any party nor the government. Nothing new had happened given that he was able to read the resolution of the Progressive Party. The vice-chairman of the Progressive Party, Guðni Ágústsson, has claimed the same.

Oddsson said furthermore that there was no reason for Iceland to join the EU. Iceland was simply doing very well outside the Union. He also said the EEA agreement between the EFTA and the EU was in good shape and serving its purpose as it should. There was no need to upgrade it as some have claimed. He said this was the opinion of the Icelandic Foreign Ministry after having looked into the matter.

The present government in Iceland is a coalition government formed by the Independence Party and the Progressive Party. The pact between the two parties states that EU membership is not on the agenda.

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