EU Membership? No Thank You!


European politicians and journalists visiting Iceland in recent months have been quite astonished to experience first hand how little interest Icelandic MPs and Icelanders in general have in joining the European Union. So astonished in fact that Icelandic lawmakers have repeatedly been asked if the EU application delivered by the Icelandic government in 2009 is really serious. Well, quite frankly it isn't. It is a door bell prank. No one really is there when the bell rings and the door is opened.

There is a reason why Iceland has never before applied to join the EU. There has always been a strong opposition to membership in the country. The necessary support among the Icelandic people has in fact never been there and the present government was and is well aware of that. Still the EU was deliberately told differently. And now the EU is waking up to a bad dream and realising that Icelanders quite simply don't want to join the EU and never have. That the EU application is in fact a lame duck.

Since last summer repeated opinion polls have shown more people against joining the EU than ever before. According to the latest one 60 percent of Icelanders want the EU application scrapped with only 26 percent wanting to carry on with it. Another recent poll showed that 70 percent would reject joining the EU in a referendum and yet another one that 58 percent don't trust the Icelandic government to defend Iceland's interests in talks with the EU. Finally the business community opposes membership.

There are a number of reasons why Icelanders don't wish to join the EU. First of all it is the self-determination, the independence. Icelanders believe and for a very good reason that by joining the EU their independence would be no more. As a token of this, people in Iceland felt insulted when the European Council decided on 17 June to recommend accession talks with Iceland. On that date Icelanders celebrate that Iceland became an independent republic a little more than 60 years ago.

Another important issue is fishing rights. Icelanders will never be willing to accept that any authority over Icelandic waters will be transferred to the EU. That means that the Lisbon Treaty could never have any authority over Icelandic fishing grounds whatsoever. Agriculture is also very important to Icelanders when it comes to EU relations as polls have shown. The same goes for the right to conclude agreements with other countries on issues like free trade and shared fish stocks.

The Icelandic foreign minister has been active in feeding leading people in the EU with wrong information about the true situation in Iceland. He gave a speech in Brussels on the day accession talks between Iceland and the EU were formally launched in which he claimed that his government was united behind the EU application. On the same day the farm and fisheries minister told Icelandic media that the accession process should be stopped.

There is only one political party in Iceland which supports EU membership and that is the foreign minister's own governing Social Democratic Alliance. The EU application was merely the fruit of bargaining between the social democrats and their junior coalition partner, the eurosceptic Left Green Movement, when forming a government in the spring of 2009. Since then, opposition to the EU deal with the social democrats has been increasing fast within the ranks of the Left Greens.

In addition, this summer Iceland's largest political party, the conservative Independence Party, which is the most likely to enter government if the current fragile one should break apart, accepted the idea that the EU application should be withdrawn completely and without delay. The policy was overwhelmingly accepted at the party's national congress at the end of June and the party's chairman has said publicly that making it come to pass will be a top priority should the party enter into government.

In short it should be quite obvious to anyone that Icelanders don't want to join the EU. An application for EU membership should never have been made.

Iceland needs free banking

Iceland's three major banks and central bank wrecked the nation's credit and currency. To restore both, Iceland should permit free banking and shut down its central bank.

For follow-up reading on this important subject, read F.A. Hayek's _Good Money, Part II: The Standard_ in _The Collected Works of F.A. Hayek, vol. 6, edited by Stephen Kresge (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999). See also the various papers and books on free banking by Lawrence H. White's _Free Banking in Britain_ and George Selgin's _Good Money_.

Who cares what Icelanders think?

Based on the behavior of the EU and pro-EU politicians in other countries, the opposition of Icelanders to membership in the EU should be of no concern to the EU. If local opposition really mattered to the Eurocrats, they would not have come up with a "treaty" to replace the rejected constitution. They would not have cajoled the Irish into reconsidering their rejection of membership. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the fact that the Icelandic government submitted an application is the only hook the EU needs to proceed with incorporating Iceland into its empire.

I understand Iceland was mainly settled by Norwegians who rejected the centralizing monarchy of Harald Fairhair. It will be interesting to see what their descendants do when their application to join the EU is granted and the new regulations start pouring in.


Is it a disadvantage to be a member of the European Free Trade Association ? I do not think so. Moreover, the Faroe Islands will join the EFTA most likely, once having left the Kingdom of Denmark ...
Maybe an idea for your next topic ?

@ Pieter

I think EFTA is a fantastic idea and support Iceland's membership of it wholeheartedly and so do Icelanders in general.

@ Frank Lee

Thank you for interesting questions. Well, it is safe to say that the general reasons you mention apply to most Icelanders whether belonging to the local business community or not. However, I suspect that the economic problems within the EU and especially in the eurozone may also be a significant reason behind the fact that 60 percent of the leading people of Icelandic companies according to polls do not believe that Iceland's economy would be better off in the EU.

The business community?

Is there a special reason the business community opposes EU membership?  Or is it just that the general reasons--fear of losing independence, fear of losing fishing rights--influence businessmen as much as they influence everyone else?