Iceland moves to withdraw EU application

Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands

Iceland’s government will seek parliamentary approval to withdraw its application to join the European Union, opting not to restart accession talks that were put on ice a year ago.

A bill proposing the withdrawal was sent to parliament late on Friday and was due to be debated next week, a foreign ministry spokesperson said on Saturday.

The move came after the parliamentary caucuses of the ruling parties – the centrist Progressive Party and the conservative Independence Party – voted on Friday to withdraw the application.

In comments on the proposal quoted by online news site Visir.is, the government said it “did not have a support base” to complete the accession process.

Opinion polls have consistently shown a majority of Icelanders oppose joining the EU.

A year after its banks collapsed, Iceland declared it would stop observing mackerel quotas agreed with the European Union, Norway and the Faroe Islands — a small archipelago north of Scotland and under the protection of Denmark.

Iceland and the Faroe Islands argue that the rise in sea temperatures caused by a combination of global warming and natural factors has sent such large quantities of mackerel and herring further north that the allocations should have been amended to reflect that.

Observers say the main problem the EU faces is obvious: Fish go where they find the best feeding and spawning grounds, oblivious to the political rows they create in their wake.

“The fact that these fish aren’t necessarily carrying a passport and flying a flag for a particular nation means that it starts to get interesting when they start to move out of EU jurisdiction,” marine biologist Stephen Simpson of the University of Exeter said in an interview.

A meeting of Coastal States (European Union, Faroe Islands, Iceland and Norway) was held in London on the in October 2013 under the chairmanship of the European Union to discuss management measures for 2014 for the mackerel stock in the North-East Atlantic. The meeting was also attended by observers from Greenland and the Russian Federation.

The discussions focused on the latest scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), which has recommended a significant increase in fishing possibilities as compared to 2013.