Icelanders Protest for EU Membership Referendum

World | February 25, 2014, Tuesday // 11:57| Views: | Comments: 0
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Bulgaria: Icelanders Protest for EU Membership Referendum Reykjavik. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Thousands of Icelanders flocked the streets of the capital Reykjavik on Monday to protest against the government's intention to scrap EU membership plans without a referendum.

The debate on a bill to abandon EU membership plans might be renewed today, but street rallies are also likely to continue in the city, Euronews reports.

In what was the largest demonstration in the country since the financial crisis began in 2009, about 3,500 Icelanders insisted that their government hold the popular vote, which was originally a promise it made during last year's election campaign.

Talks over a possible EU membership have been frozen by the current government that is known for its vocal Euro-skepticism.

Iceland's application for the bloc has not yet been withdrawn due to the opposition's claim that not enough debate has been made in Parliament on the issue.

The first steps toward entering the EU were taken in 2009, but they were halted as discrepancies emerged over fishing and trade issues.

Trade of fish and fishery products generates some 90% of Iceland's GDP, and last year the EU threatened to impose a ban on selling some of the country's seafood. The measure was explained citing environmental grounds.

According to most recent polls, the majority of Icelanders would like to have their say on EU membership in a national referendum, but an equally large number would cast a ballot against it if a vote were held.

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