Iceland to Try Again to Withdraw EU Membership Bid

World » EU | January 6, 2015, Tuesday // 13:43
Bulgaria: Iceland to Try Again to Withdraw EU Membership Bid Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb (L) welcomes his Icelandic counterpart Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson (R) to the Northern Future Forum in Helsinki, Finland, 06 November 2014. Photo EPA/BGNES

Iceland is planning to try again to withdraw its application to join the EU, Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson has said.

“Participating in EU talks isn’t really valid anymore,” Gunnlaugsson said as quoted by the Reykjav?k Grapevine.

The EU accession negotiations are “at square one as all the work on it that had been carried out before was in fact obsolete,” Iceland’s media outlet quoted the prime minister as saying on Sunday.

Iceland applied to join the EU in the wake of its financial crisis in July 2009. The European Commission issued a favourable response to the application in February 2010 and formal negotiations started in July the same year.

However, membership talks stalled following April 2013elections, which brought to power Gunnlaugsson's centrist Progress Party and the conservative Independence Party. When Progress Party’s Gunnlaugsson became prime minister the following month, he froze accession talks with the EU, largely because of the fish catch quotas which the European Commission wants to impose - a move Iceland’s fishing industry opposes.

The first attempt to formally withdraw Iceland’s membership application was made last year. It ended in public protests and calls to hold a national referendum on the issue. Nevertheless, an anti-EU membership resolution will shortly be presented to Iceland’s parliament.

The European Union accounts for two-thirds of Iceland’s trade turnover. The Nordic country, which has no voting rights in the EU, is member of the European Economic Area (EEA), the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the EU’s Schengen borderless area.

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Tags: Iceland, EU membership, European Union, Gunnlaugsson
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