A rather peculiar situation in Iceland

The new center-left government in Iceland, formed by the Left Green Movement and the Social Democratic Alliance, has come under heavy criticism for opening up the EU issue half-heartedly. The proposal to apply for EU membership, that has now been put to the parliament, has also been much criticised for being a very badly performed work. Not the least by the Progressive Party whom the pro-EU social democrats have counted on to get the proposal through since they cannot count on the MPs of the traditionally eurosceptic Left Green Movement for support. A number of Left Green Movement MPs have already announced publicly that they will not back the proposal which means the social democrats will need all the support they can get from the opposition.

On top of all this both the government parties claim the right to fight against a possible membership agreement according to the proposal. So this whole issue is quite peculiar to say the least and based on very fragile foundations. The social democrats are hoping to send an application to Brussels before July this summer but that may easily turn out to be very optimistic. The issue will most certainly be debated heavily in the coming weeks both in the parliament and outside it. That debate could quite easily take a very long time. On top of that it is far from being certain that the parliament will eventually vote in favour of the proposal whenever the voting will take place.


New government to propose membership talks with the EU

The new center-left government of Iceland has agreed that the foreign minister will put a proposal to the parliament after it rejoines on May 15 that an application for membership of the European Union will be sent to Brussels this summer. Before July according to the government's plans. The government, however, is completely split on the issue with the Social Democratic Alliance strongly in favour of membership but the junion colatition partner, the Left Green Movement, opposing the idea. Whether the parliament will accept the proposal is unclear.


New EU poll in Iceland

The results of a new poll on the attitute of Icelanders towards membership of the European Union were presented yesterday evening. The poll was produced by Capacent Gallup for the state television RÚV and showed 61 percent in favour of starting membership talks with the EU and 27 percent against. However, according to the poll Icelanders are split evenly in their attitute towards EU membership itself with 39 percent both in favour and against.

Majority of the voters of all the political parties represented in the Icelandic parliament except for the conservative Independence Party (Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn) are in favour of membership talks with the EU. At the same time majority of the voters of all the political parties except the Social Demcratic Alliance (Samfylkingin) are opposed to membership as such.

There has been a debate in Iceland since yesterday that it obviously depends which question is being asked. Polls where people have been asked if they supported starting membership talks with the EU have usually showed majority in favour of that. However, polls asking if people wish to apply for EU membership have showed majority against doing that, like polls this year for the Icelandic daily Fréttablaðið.

If Iceland would decide to start membership talks with the EU it would first have to apply for EU membership. That is the first step. But it seems many people in Iceland don't realise this and think that it is possible to just start talks with the EU to see what is in the package, to get to the bottom of the issue once and for all as some have phrased it, without any commitments. Of course this is not the case.

Mikill meirihluti vill viðræður (Rúv.is 06/05/09)