Iceland only adopting 6,5 percent of EU laws through the EEA agreement

Iceland has only adopted about 6,5 percent of EU regulations, directives, decisions, etc. through its membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) since signing the agreement a decade ago. This was revealed today in the Althing, the Icelandic parliament, by Davíð Oddsson, the Icelandic Minister of Foreign Affairs, as an answer to an inquiry from Sigurður Kári Kristjánsson, MP for the Independence Party. The information was collected by the EFTA Secretariat in Brussels for the Icelandic Foreign Ministry. In the answer says that by far most of EU regulations, directives, etc. have to do with the Common Fisheries Policy, the Common Agriculture Policy and matters concerning foreign trade of the EU and tariffs. This falls outside the EEA agreement. Also many EU laws which fall under the EEA agreement do not apply to Iceland like laws concerning railways since there are no such in the country.

During discussions in the Althing about the Foreign Minister's answer Kristjánsson said this made it clear that claims from the pro-EU movement in Iceland that Iceland had been adopting around 80 percent of EU regulations, directives, etc. over the years was a deception. This showed that the arguments of those in favour of EU membership in Iceland were almost as ridicilous as the idea of membership itself.

Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, MP and chairman of the Left-Green Movement, said that the claims of the pro-EU movement completely collapsed in the light of this new information. He said there was of course a big difference between the EEA agreement and EU membership, especially since the CFP, the CAP and matters concerning tariffs were outside the agreement.

Björgvin G. Sigurðsson, MP for the Social Democratic Alliance, said he thought Iceland should join the EU as soon as possible. He claimed that Norway was on its way into the EU and that the EEA agreement was destined to perish. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, MP for the Independence Party, said nothing indicated that Norway was going to join the EU and neither that the EEA agreement was about to perish.

Björn Bjarnason, Minister of Justice (Independence Party), said this new information was according to what the members of the special parliamentary committe on European affairs he chairs had realised during their work. That claims that Iceland was adopting up to 80 percent of EU regulations, directives, etc. were entirely false.

Bjarnason furthermore argued that the EEA agreement would not perish if Norway would join the EU. When the agreement was signed more than a decade ago Norway was expected to join the EU. The Norwegians then rejected membership in a referendum. No one expected the EEA agreement to perish at that time even though Norway would have joined the EU.

This matter has received huge attention in Iceland.

Press articles:
Stöð 2

The answer from the Foreign Minister