Better Out than In

Geir H. Haarde, the Icelandic Foreign Minister, met with his British colleague Jack Straw in London yesterday. During the meeting the two discussed the relationship between Iceland and the United Kingdom, the European Union and some other international issues. After the meeting Mr Haarde said it was especially interesting to hear that Mr Straw agreed with him that no special Icelandic interests required that Iceland join the EU. According to Mr Haarde, Mr Straw agreed that Icelanders were doing very well outside the EU. This is of course nothing new for Icelanders, but it is always nice to hear others confirm it. The funny thing is that the same Jack Straw on a number of occasions – before the French and the Dutch rejected the EU constitution – warned the British people not to reject the constitution because doing so would mean that Britain would become “isolated and weak in Europe.”

Are we to understand that different principles apply for Britain and Iceland? Of course not. Any country in Europe, or in the world, can do as well as Iceland and even better. But the EU is most definitely not the road to prosperity. Iceland is the wealthiest and most prosperous country in the world today after Norway. The reason for Iceland’s success is its independence, which has made it possible for the country to introduce radical economic reforms towards a liberalized economy, something which would never have been possible had the country been a member of the EU.

(Previously published in the Brussels Journal)