Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson has announced that the Government of Iceland decided at its cabinet meeting last Tuesday that it did not intend to restart accession negotiations with the European Union. The Icelandic government therefore considers that Iceland is no longer a candidate country and requests the EU to act in accordance with this from now on, as stated in a ministry statement sent to the press this evening.
Many Icelanders, including Members of Parliament, have been expressing surprise and outrage at the announcement via Facebook. The decision had not been discussed by the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, mbl.is reports. A protest began in Austurvöllur square, outside Alþingi parliament, at 8 pm.
Gunnar Bragi made the announcement during a meeting with his Latvian counterpart Edgars Rinkevics, who currently holds the EU Presidency. He also delivered a letter informing the Presidency and the EU Commission of the decision.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs however expressed his desire to strengthen the cooperation between Iceland and the EU. According to the ministry press release, Rinkevics respected Iceland’s conclusion.
Iceland’s decision to address a letter to the Presidency of the EU came after extensive communications between the Icelandic Government and the EU over the past weeks, the statement said.
Last spring, protests were organized in Austurvöllur to demand that Iceland’s EU membership application not be withdrawn before a national referendum was held.