Icelanders Do Not Trust the EU

The majority of Icelanders has very little trust for the European Union according to a new opinion poll published on Saturday by Capacent. Only about 26% trust the EU with 44% who do not trust it. The rest, or 30%, are undecided. The Icelandic government is, however, proceeding with the EU accession process.

Last Friday, a former Foreign Minister of Iceland, Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson, said at a meeting held at the University of Reykjavík that he thought the Icelandic people would probably reject membership of the European Union in a referendum. This he contributed among other things to a poor political leadership by which he was obviously referring to the current government in Iceland. Hannibalsson’s remarks are seen as quite interesting since he has for years been one of the most outspoken supporters of Iceland joining the EU. The former Foreign Minister is, however, far from being the only leading supporter of EU membership in Iceland who has recently aired pessimism that Iceland will actually join the EU at the end of the ongoing accession process.

Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, Iceland’s Minister of Finance and chairman of the junior coalition partner the Left Green Movement, said last Tuesday at the Nordic Council’s 61st Session in Stockholm that although his government had applied to join the European Union the Icelandic people do not want to become members. Sigfússon was responding to a question directed to him about the situation of Iceland’s EU application.

Nevertheless, last week, the Icelandic government delivered its answers to a total of 2,500 questions about Iceland, its economy, politics and society in general to the European Union. The answers are a part of the Iceland’s accession process. The government denied a popular demand in Iceland that the questions and the answers to them would be translated into Icelandic so all Icelanders could examine them. The questions and answers were in a kind of a Brussels-bureaucratic version of English.

The government had previously promised that the whole accession process would be transparent and the Icelandic people would be kept informed about every step of it. This is not seen by critics as a good start. It might be mentioned that among those who called for an Icelandic translation of the questions and the answers were organisations of both those in favour of EU membership and those who reject it.