Norway tries to discourage Iceland from joining EU

Bookmark and Share

Norwegian politicians from two of the government coalition’s parties were sending a delegation to Reykjavik this weekend, in a bid to dissuade their Icelandic counterparts from joining the European Union (EU).
Iceland is one of Norway’s few partners outside the EU. Now some of Norway’s leading EU opponents are afraid the Iceland’s economic crisis will prompt the country to join the EU after all.
That will leave Norway, where voters twice have narrowly turned down EU membership, increasingly alone in its refusal to join the European community. Fellow Nordic countries Finland, Sweden and Denmark joined years ago.
Iceland’s equivalent of Norway’s anti-EU Center Party, which tries to protect farmers from European competition, is poised to debate the EU issue so former Center Party head Åslaug Haga was keen to follow along and offer her anti-EU views. She denied her group was acting like anti-EU “missionaries,” but there was little doubt she would emphasize perceived advantages of being outside the EU.
The EU issue remains controversial in Norway, and also within the current coalition government. While two of the coalition parties, Center and the Socialist Left, oppose EU membership, the dominant Labour Party is split. Both Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre have favoured EU membership.

By Nina Berglund