(13 March 2015) – Iceland yesterday (12 March) announced it was dropping its bid to join the European Union, in line with pledges made by its Eurosceptic government after its election two years ago.
Iceland first applied for EU membership in 2009. Foreign Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson said that the centre-right government had told Latvia, currently holding the rotating presidency of the EU, and the European Commission of its decision to annul the application.
“Iceland’s interests are better served outside the European Union,” the minister wrote on his website. Iceland first applied for EU membership under a leftist government in 2009, when the country was badly shaken by an economic crisis that saw the Icelandic krona lose almost half its value. That made eurozone membership an attractive prospect.
But the thorny issue of fishing quotas was seen as a key obstacle to joining the bloc, although it was never brought up in the accession talks. Fishing represents an important part of the Icelandic economy, and it was never made clear how differences between Brussels and Reykjavik on the subject could be resolved. Iceland has said it wants to maintain “close ties and cooperation” with the EU, and already benefits from such links. The North Atlantic island is a member of Europe’s visa-free Schengen area and the European Economic Area. (EurActiv)