Iceland postpones withdrawal of EU application

REYKJAVIK Mon May 12, 2014 4:23pm EDT

Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, minister for foreign affairs of Iceland, addresses the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York September 30, 2013. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, minister for foreign affairs of Iceland, addresses the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York September 30, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Adrees Latif

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REYKJAVIK (Reuters) - Iceland has postponed plans to withdraw its application for European Union membership, the government said on Monday, after protesters called for a referendum.

The government drafted a bill earlier this year to withdraw Iceland's 2009 EU membership application without holding a public vote, but thousands of protesters gathered in March and April outside parliament, calling on the ruling parties to honor election promises to put the EU issue to a referendum.

Foreign Affairs Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson did not promise that. "I expect that parliament will return to the issue after the summer recess. I only consider it a formality," he said.

"The government is not in any negotiations with the EU and does not intend to hold any."

Around 55,000 people in Iceland signed a petition calling for a referendum on EU membership. Opinion polls indicate a majority of Iceland's 320,000 people want such a vote.

In a opinion poll conducted earlier this month, 37 percent of Icelanders said they want to join the EU, the highest level since the country put in its application. The poll showed 49 percent of Icelanders were against joining.

(Reporting by Robert Robertsson; Editing by Simon Johnson and Robin Pomeroy)

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Comments (1)
carlmartel wrote:
It is not surprising that Iceland wants to withdraw its application because the EU had a 2013 GDP growth rate of 0.3%, and its 1st quarter 2014 GDP fell to -0.2%. One more quarter of negative growth will put the EU into recession. Further, it imposes sanctions on itself in a dispute against Russia that supplies it with 40% of its natural gas. The EU seeks to add the economic basket case of Ukraine that has $52 billion in public debt and $250 billion in debts owed to private banks in Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, and Greece. The last four countries will fall into recession if Ukraine can’t make payments, and the current crisis makes default increasingly likely. Ukraine’s gas costs are rising because Russia ended discounts over rejection of a Russian offer for lower gas prices and repayment by Ukrainian grain sales to China. With the loss of Crimea and revolts in eastern Ukraine, it is unlikely that the Kiev regime will become solvent, so the EU will likely lose GDP in the 2nd quarter and go into recession. Also, the EU’s NATO members are spending more on military exercises that burn fuels and increase troop expenses to reduce EU GDP growth further.

May 12, 2014 5:36pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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