Most Icelandic political parties opposed to EU membership

AlþingiOnly one political party in Iceland is in favour of joining the European Union. The Alliance (Samfylkingin) has membership of the Union on its platform but the leadership of the party nevertheless decided not to accentuate that policy in the hustings before the general elections in the spring of 2003 when public opinion polls had shown that most Icelanders were opposed to membership. Before that the leadership had recurrently declared that joining the EU would be one of the main policy of the party in hustings. The party, however, remains split on the issue.

The Progress Party (Framsóknarflokkurinn) is also very split towards membership of the EU. The present policy of the party is that joining the Union is not on the agenda in the nearest future. The Independence Party (Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn) is utterly opposed to membership although some part of its members are in favour. The Left-Green Movement (Vinstrihreyfingin - grænt framboð) is also entirely against joining the Union and the policy of the Liberal Party (Frjálslyndi flokkurinn) is that membership is not an issue, at least in the years to come.

Finally the policy of the current government (The Independence Party and the Progress Party), set to be in power until 2007, is that joining the European Union is completely out of the question.


No gain for Iceland in EU membership

Andrew RosindellAndrew Rosindell, British MP and vice chairman of the Conservative Party, is on a short vacation in Iceland for few days. Mr. Rosindell is also a member of a group of British MPs with special interest in the relations between Iceland and the UK called The United Kingdom Parliamentary Iceland Group. He said in an interview with reporter from the Morgunblaðið that he believed Iceland and the UK had common interests in many fields for example concerning the fish industry and the EU.

Mr. Rosindell said he hoped that the experiance the British had had from being in the EU would affect the Icelandic stand towards it. The British experiance was very bad. They realised now how the EU had devastated their fish industry. Mr Rosindell said he hoped Icelanders would keep this experiance in mind and be careful in their relations with the EU.

Mr. Rosindell furthermore said the arguments for an Icelandic membership of the EU were none to his opinion. He did not understand why this was even being debated. He simply could not see how Iceland was to gain from an EU membership.


Stoltenberg: Negotiations must result in membership

Jens StoltenbergJens Stoltenberg, the leader of Norwegian Labour Party, said in an interview with Icelandic reporters that it was clear that Norway would not enter negotiations of membership with the European Union for the third time unless it was certain it resulted in Norway joining the Union. Norwegian voters rejected membership in a referendum both in 1972 and 1994.

One of the fundamental element in the propaganda of Icelandic Europhiles is to predict on a reglular basis that the Norwegians are on a speedy way into the European Union and therefore we have to join the Union before they do. Europhiles in Iceland have practiced this for decades now. The same thing is done by Europhiles in Norway, only there they claim Iceland is on a speedy way into the Union and hence the Norwegians must join the Union before we do.

In both cases this is false. Neither country is on a speedy way into the European Union and most definately not Iceland.


Davíð Oddsson to the Foreign Ministry

The Icelandic Foreign MinistryAccording to the latest news in Iceland Davíð Oddsson, the current Prime Minister, will become Foreign Minister on the 15th of September when Halldór Ásgrímsson, the current Foreign Minister, will become Prime Minister.

After the last parliament elections in Iceland in May 2003 the Independence Party and the Progress Party renewed their cooperation and formed a new government. One of the things the parties agreed upon was that the coming September 15 the leader of the Progress Party, Mr. Ásgrímsson, would become Prime Minister instead of Mr. Oddsson, the leader of the Independence Party. However, it was not clear until now what the latter one would do after stepping down as Prime Minister.

This is expected to mean among other things that the interest of Icelandic authorities in joining the European Union (which is very little) may reduce since Mr. Oddsson is far more opposed to membership than his predecessor in the office of Foreign Minister.


Two major newspapers in Iceland

Some Icelandic NewspapersThere are two major newspapers in Iceland; Fréttablaðið, which is only three and a half years old, and Morgunblaðið which is the oldest and most respected newspaper in Iceland (published since 1913). Fréttablaðið is free of charge and red slightly more than the Morgunblaðið which is sold to the public.

Neither newspaper has an official policy towards the European Union and their reportage is reputed to be neutral on the issue (as all other issues). However, the leading articles of Fréttablaðið tend to be in favour of joining the Union while the leading articles of Morgunblaðið are generally opposed to membership. Also many feel that it is possible to see certain emphasis in the newspaper's reportage, especially when it comes to Fréttablaðið.

However, articles from the public, supporting membership of the EU and against it, are published in both the newspapers and their news also generally reflect both sides.


Not the right time for Iceland to join the EU

Ben BradshawIn a visit to Iceland few days ago Ben Bradshaw, the british Fisheries Minister, said that now is not the right time for Iceland to join the European Union. He also said that he understood very well that Icelanders were not interested in joining the EU in light of the current situation of the fish industry whithin the Union.

Commenting on ideas of Icelandic Europhiles, that Iceland could hold full authority over it's territorial waters despite joining the EU, Mr. Bradshaw said it would simply not work. If Iceland was given such an immunity it would be very hard to refuse other memberstates of the same thing. It would mean the end of the CFP.