Iceland's Fisheries Minister still firm on his opposition to EU membership

Some foreign media, including the Euobserver.com and the Irish Times, claimed few days ago that the Icelandic Fisheries Minister, Einar K. Gudfinnsson, had changed his position towards membership of the European Union (EU) from being a firm opponent to saying it was one of the options that had to be looked into. This was claimed to be based on the reportings of Iceland's state radio (RUV).

The truth, however, is that Gudfinnsson never said he was open for EU membership. What he said was simply taken out of context in the foreign media. According to the website of RUV Gudfinnsson said all options regarding getting foreign loans had to be considered. In the news story it is then stressed that Gudfinnsson is as before firmly opposed to EU membership.

The title of RUV's news story is in fact "Ministers disagree on the EU" referring to the fact that Foreign Minister Ingibjorg Sólrun Gisladottir has for many years been in favour of EU membership while Gudfinnsson opposes it.

Gisladottir is chairman of the junior coalition parter in the Icelandic government. Her party, the Socialdemocratic Alliance (Samfylkingin), is the only political party in Iceland which favours EU membership negotiations. However, the senior coalition partner, the conservative Independence Party (Gudfinnsson's party), is opposed to EU membership.

The position of the Icelandic government has not changed since the banking crisis in Iceland started in the beginning of October. Its policy is as before that EU membership is not on the agenda.